Six major airports in Japan set to adopt facial recognition technology by 2020


Conceptual image of an electronic customs procedure gate at a customs inspection area exit gate and electronic declaration terminal.

NEC Corporation has won an order from Japan Customs, under the Ministry of Finance, for an electronic customs procedure system utilising face recognition to be installed at the customs inspection areas of six major airports in Japan: New Chitose Airport, Narita International Airport, Haneda Airport, Chubu International Airport, Kansai International Airport and Fukuoka Airport. 

This electronic customs procedure system utilises NEC’s face recognition technology and has already been put into operation at Narita International Airport Terminal 3 as of April 15 of this year. Japan Customs is now expanding this system throughout six major airports, which account for approximately 90% of the annual passengers entering Japan, aiming to commence operations from March 2020. 

This system is designed to accelerate the customs procedures at airports, where NEC’s face recognition technology can confirm travellers’ identities when using the system’s electronic declaration terminal and passing through exit gates. Moreover, NEC aims to further accelerate customs procedures by enabling baggage to be reported electronically through the use of smartphone applications. 

Going forward, it is expected that the number of international visitors entering Japan will continue to rapidly grow. As part of this, NEC will utilise its cutting-edge biometric technologies to reduce the congestion of customs inspection areas and shorten waiting times.

The system consists of customs declaration apps which simplify customs and declaration procedures for baggage, an electronic declaration terminal, and an exit gate that enables passengers to pass through using face recognition.

During operation of the electronic declaration terminal, the traveller is photographed with a built-in camera and checked against their facial image embedded in the IC chip of their passport. The facial image taken at the terminal is only used for identification processes and is deleted in an appropriate manner after use.