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POLITICS

Gov’t in dilemma between attracting foreign tourists and preventing terrorism

  • 2015-02-03 15:00:00
  • , Yomiuri
  • Translation

(Yomiuri: February 3, 2015 – p. 3)

 

 In its anti-terrorism measures, the government is placing importance on measures to prevent terrorists from entering Japan at airports and seaports.

 

 The Justice Ministry ordered the Immigration Bureau on Feb. 1 to tighten immigration inspections at airports and harbors. The ministry issued a similar order on Jan. 20 when the hostage incident was disclosed. Reportedly, no problems have arisen at Narita Airport, where immigration inspections of about 12,000 foreign nationals are conducted per day.

 

 The immigration clearance system was strengthened after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Since 2007, all foreign nationals aged 16 years and older are required to have their fingerprints and photographs taken.

 

 If a foreign national is identified as a terrorist following consultations by relevant ministries and agencies, the person is cross-checked with a “watch list” database. If the foreigner is judged to be a terrorist, that person will be forced to leave Japan.

 

 However, the government is facing a dilemma over its anti-terrorism measures at points of entry. This is because it has set a target of increasing the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan by 1.5-fold from 2014 to 20 million by 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Olympics and Paralympics. This is a major part of the government’s growth strategy.

 

 In order to reach the target, the government has been easing visa requirements for tourists from India, Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries one after another since July 2014. A senior Justice Ministry official expressed concern by saying, “If the number of foreign visitors increases, the number of risks will also rise. The burden on immigration officers will increase.”

 

 In an attempt to tighten anti-terrorist measures at points of entry, the Justice Ministry has made efforts to collect information on terrorists in cooperation with the National Police Agency. The ministry plans to train experts to identify fake passports in Southeast Asian countries.

 

 The government held a meeting of bureau director-level officials from relevant ministries and agencies at the prime minister’s office [Kantei] on Feb. 2. The officials confirmed the present state of anti-terrorism measures. In order to strengthen anti-terrorism measures, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga will preside over a meeting of senior vice ministers of the relevant agencies on Feb. 3.

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