Japan Launches ‘Facial Recognition’ Technology To Thwart Terrorism: Report

Japan is set to introduce facial recognition software as a key security measure at airports particularly in light of the 2020 Summer Olympics slated to be hosted by the country. According to reports, the Japanese government will introduce this unique feature as part of its security apparatus to maximize safety and thwart terrorist infiltration into the island nation.

Collecting head-shots of visitors entering the country is already an active feature of passport-control protocol around Japan. However, the introduction of facial recognition will enable security personnel to compare these photos against an available database detailing suspected terrorist profiles. Authorities in Japan are looking to enhance this database by reinforcing intelligence sharing measures between domestic security agencies and immigration experts around the world.

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Facial recognition technology collects data form the ‘contours’ of a person’s face and then maps the ratios between each feature with remarkable precision, generating a distinctive data set based on each person’s facial features. These measurements are meticulously documented and organized for matching and identification purposes and more specifically tracking down potential infiltrators.

Although a security feature that has been on the ascent for years, facial recognition is most recurrently employed in aviation security technology. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, airports around the world were quick to use biometrics integrated with facial recognition technology, a futuristic apparatus that flawlessly identifies terrorists from an extensive database of suspected profiles.

Last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection prudently introduced this mechanism whereby Americans arriving to the U.S. were to be randomly picked and photographed in order to pin down potential imposters. Similarly, Orlando International Airport upgraded its automated passport control (APC) kiosks to include facial recognition for incoming passengers. An official USCBP document underlines the key function of this apparatus.

“The operational goals of this pilot are to determine the viability of facial recognition as a technology to assist CBPOs in identifying possible imposters using U.S. e-passports to enter the United States and determine if facial recognition technology can be incorporated into current CBP entry processing with acceptable impacts to processing time and the traveling public while effectively providing CBPOs with a tool to counter imposters using valid U.S. travel documents,”

Tuesdays terrorist attacks in Brussels have aroused the attention of Japanese authorities to exercise a greater degree of caution as it looks ahead to next year’s Group of Seven summit and the 2020 Summer Olympics.

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Japan’s security experts have warned that Japan could be a possible target for terrorist outfits such as ISIS owing to a number of reasons, namely Japan’s coalition stance with the west, as well as its robust culture of free expression and media freedoms. They argue that such a climate can provide a convenient conduit for terrorists to spread their messages, recruit members and gather intelligence. In January last year, two Japanese citizens Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, were murdered by extremists in Syria prompting massive outrage in Japan.

Japanese security experts say Japan looks to its allies such as the United States for intelligence sharing on terrorist profiles. To strengthen security, many have strongly advocated use of advanced surveillance technologies such as facial recognition in addition to ensuring access to an active terrorist database.

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According to the JNTO, Japanese National Tourism Organization, the estimated number of international visitors to Japan in January 2016 touched nearly 1.9 million going up by almost 50 percent compared to 2015. It recorded the highest figure for January and the second highest on a monthly basis since July 2015.

Last year’s atrocities in Paris and the more recent strikes in Belgium have enhanced Tokyo’s apprehensions about Japan’s ostensible vulnerability to terrorism. The Japanese government regards the introduction of facial recognition as a laudable appendage to its existing airport security paradigm in an attempt to obstruct, as well as apprehend, terrorists attempting to infiltrating the nation’s borders.

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