An In-Depth Look At Narita Airport’s Immigration Checkpoints


A brief translation of a few things mentioned in the video:

  • The frightening buzzer that goes off a minute and 40 seconds into the video indicates that there is a suspicious individual at one of immigration booth. In such a case, it is necessary to call in extra staff and bring the foreigner to a back room for questioning. Dubious passports and suspicions about stated reasons for entering Japan are the two main things that trigger such alerts. At peak times, the buzzer goes off almost every minute.According to the report, one in ten foreigners called to the back room end up being refused entry to Japan.
  • The first foreigner who is called to a back room for questioning is a South Korean woman who is accompanied by a small child. She seems nervous, and it is revealed that she had visited Japan before with her husband and the husband had been forced to return to Korea because he committed a crime. The immigration officials suspect that she may attempt to overstay her tourist visa (such cases are “overwhelming numerous,” claims the narrator), and after questioning she allegedly confesses such an intention. She is refused entry and leaves in tears.
  • The second foreigner who is called to the back room is a Filipino man who claims he is coming to Japan to visit his sister, who is married to a Japanese citizen. Immigration officials verify that his sister actually lives in Japan, and he is allowed to enter the country.
  • The third foreigner is shown in handcuffs. Apparently he is being forcibly deported for illegally attempting to enter the country as a refugee. (not too sure on the translation here)
  • The report mentions the new fingerprinting/photographing system introduced at immigration checkpoints last year. It also mentions that 10,000 foreigners illegally enter Japan a year, 600 of whom are caught at immigration checkpoints. An official claims the fingerprinting system is very useful in catching such illegal entrants.
  • The fourth and fifth foreigners called to the back room are two men who suspiciously arrive at the immigration checkpoint at a time when there have been no recent international arrivals. No immigration checkpoint was even in service at the time, so an employee had to rush out and man a booth for them. They were promptly called to the back room for having suspicious passports. Apparently the men had handed over both Sri Lankan passports and Malaysian passports. We are shown that for one of the men, both passports had the same photos, but the names did not match! Their passports are rushed to a special counterfeit document inspection lab, and the Malaysian passports were found to be fakes.The men later confessed under interrogation that they had arrived at Narita 12 hours earlier, hoping to meet with a broker that had arranged for them to board a transit flight to Great Britain. Failing to find their broker, they were left with no choice but to head to the immigration checkpoint. The narrator says that such cases are not uncommon. The men in this particular case were eventually deported to Sri Lanka.

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February 2008
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