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Japan parliament approves bill requiring fingerprints, photos for foreign visitors

[JURIST] Visitors to Japan [JURIST news archive] will be electronically fingerprinted and photographed under a bill approved Wednesday by the House of Councillors [official website], the upper house of Japan's parliament. Foreign visitors 16 and older will have their fingerprints and pictures taken upon entering the country beginning in November 2007. Permanent residents, state guests and diplomats will be exempt. The lower house approved the proposal [BBC report] in March. The government of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi [official website] says the new procedures, similar to those in the United States, will prevent terrorism [JURIST news archive] and other crimes.

The Democratic Party of Japan [party website], the main opposition party, and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations [group website; opinion paper] warned that gathering the data and storing it in a database would violate foreigners' privacy. AFP has more. NHK has local coverage.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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