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This post by Craig Hill reminded me that WatchJapan shouldn’t be concerned only with what is good about Japan. Having permanent resident status has enabled me to avoid the immigration department for years. I’d nearly forgotten how cumbersome and occasionally perturbing the experience of border security and other procedures have been.
I also realize the extent to which Japan has embraced technological accoutrements to border security. I have the 2nd generation “Alien Registration”, which is to be supplanted by a 3rd. The local ward office people have been by my house recently to explain procedures and the rationale for the high tech fingerprinting, but I’ve not been in when they made their visit. They do this door-to-door for residents, apparently, probably because it is something not a lot of foreign residents have been all that enthusiastic about. It is rather difficult to accept the need to be fingerprinted and recorded in a national database, much as convicts are in other nations.
In Japan, this is purportedly for our own security. I can attest that makes me feel quite insecure, that in order to protect my personal well being, the immigration department (and police, of course) need to know my identity here and in my country of origin.
But Craig’s post makes me feel even less secure. If the purported reason for their border control technology can be so easily breached by extremely low-technology, available anywhere in the world, then the systems are designed to only be useful where they are unnecessary. Hmmm.
Which makes me wonder. If the 45 million dollar biometric systems can be foiled so easily, what is it really designed for?
I’m not Richard Nixon, but, “I am not a crook.” Maybe I need to keep a roll of Scotch tape with me the next time I visit the immigration office…

Craig Hill Training Services

So much for biometrics and immigration security. A South Korean woman managed to fool a million-dollar fingerprint reading machine in Japanese border controls using a simple piece of tape stuck to her fingers.

It happened at Tokyo airport. The woman has repeatedly entered Japan using the same trick without anybody noticing. Japanese officials say that they suspect many others have been doing the same things, demonstrating that the biometric systems they installed in 30 airports in 2007, costing $45 million, are completely useless. The woman was deported in July 2007 for illegally staying in Japan as a bar hostess in Nagano, but she entered again with the system, using the tape and a fake passport allegedly provided by a South Korean broker.

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