Bill warrants thorough debate

Only two weeks after it was sent to the chamber’s floor and with little debate, the Lower House has passed a bill that will allow the fingerprinting and photographing of foreigners as they enter Japan. 

At present, the United States is the only country that photographs and fingerprints entrants, although a few European countries fingerprint foreigners when they apply for visas at overseas diplomatic missions. 

Japan used to fingerprint foreign residents for residency-registration purposes. But facing strong opposition, especially from the country’s Korean residents, the Justice Ministry abolished the system in 1999. Even when it was taking fingerprints of foreign residents, the ministry’s official position was that the fingerprint records held by the ministry would never be used in criminal investigations. The Criminal Procedure Law also states that the authorities may fingerprint a person without a warrant only when the person is being held in custody as a criminal suspect.