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Japan airports to introduce facial recognition for foreign visitors

This file photo taken in June 2018 shows a woman using a facial recognition device at Narita International Airport's immigration gate in Narita, near Tokyo. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Automatic gates using facial recognition systems will be implemented at a number of airports in Japan for short-term overseas visitors departing the country, immigration authorities said Tuesday.

The gates will come into use on July 24 at Tokyo's Haneda airport and later this year at Narita, Kansai, Fukuoka, Chubu and Chitose airports, according to the Immigration Services Agency.

Their introduction is part of efforts to deal with an expected huge inflow of foreign travelers to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The identification photo stored in the IC chip of a traveler's passport will be scanned and compared to a photograph taken at the gate, which will then open if the two images match, according to the agency.

Facial recognition gates were introduced at Haneda airport for incoming Japanese travelers in October 2017. They are now also in use for Japanese nationals at four other major airports -- Narita, Chubu, Kansai and Fukuoka.

Narita will implement the gates for outgoing foreign visitors in August, Kansai in September, Fukuoka in October, Chubu and Chitose in November, and Naha Airport in Okinawa Prefecture next July.

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