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Facial recognition gates begin screening departing foreign visitors at Kansai airport

Facial recognition gates, which the immigration authorities began to use to screen foreigners on short-term visas departing from Kansai International Airport, are seen on Sept. 25, 2019. (Mainichi/ Yasutoshi Tsurumi)

IZUMISANO, Osaka -- Facial recognition gates at immigration at Kansai International Airport in western Japan began on Sept. 25 to screen departing foreigners on short-term stay visas.

The cutting-edge system to speed up departure passport controls had previously been only for use by Japanese nationals. The number of gates will be expanded to 41 by the end of March next year to cope with the increase in foreign visitors to the country.

The airport aims to shorten the required time for departure procedures but tighten entry examinations by assigning more immigration officials to face-to-face screenings of foreign visitors arriving in Japan.

The use of facial recognition gates for foreign visitors at Kansai International Airport follows their introduction at Haneda and Narita international airports serving Tokyo and surrounding areas. About 11,400 foreigners are expected to use the system a day at Kansai airport, according to its operator.

The system identifies passengers by comparing the face image recorded in the integrated circuit (IC) chip of their passports with the real face captured by a camera installed in the gate. When the facial data matches, it takes 15 seconds for a gate to clear a passenger.

After using the system at Kansai International Airport, 23-year-old He Ying Qi, from Hong Kong, said, "It's convenient as the system quickly reads the chip."

An officer at Kansai Airport District Immigration Office said, "We want to use the system to streamline departure procedures and shorten waiting times for entry controls."

(Japanese original by Yasutoshi Tsurumi, Izumisano Resident Bureau)

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