Japanese police arrested a young Chinese woman who had been previously deported but sneaked back into the country. Lin Rong, 27, had been deported to China in March 2007 for working as a hostess at a bar in Akasaka, Tokyo, after her visa had expired. Police said she paid roughly $1,500 for a plastic surgery that allowed her to evade Japan’s immigration control. The fingerprint scam would go undetected, but for Rong’s continuing bad luck. According to Japanese officials, this time she was arrested for faking a marriage license after entering Japan. A casual look at her fingers revealed scarred tissue, which led to further investigation. Police found that she paid to remove patches of skin from her thumbs and index fingers and then graft them on to fingers on the opposite hand. Her identity was not detected when she re-entered Japan illegally through the border control using bogus fingerprints.
The above arrest follows a similar arrest of a South Korean woman in Nagano in August of 2008. She was able to beat the fingerprint check with a fake passport and silicone patches attached to her fingers. The woman was also previously barred from entering Japan. She was deported in July 2007 for illegally staying in Japan after she worked as a bar hostess in Nagano, according to Ministry of Justice.
Following the US, Japan has become the second nation to introduce a security program of photographic and biometric identification for all those entering the country. The government of Japan began collecting fingerprints from arriving visitors in November 2007. However, while the US measure is purely restricted to foreign visitors, Japan requires foreign residents to undergo the security checks on each occasion they enter the country. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it has begun collecting additional fingerprints from international visitors by upgrading to 10 fingerprint collection. According to DHS, collecting 10 fingerprints improves fingerprint matching accuracy and the department’s ability to compare a visitor’s fingerprints against latent fingerprints collected by Department of Defense (DOD) and the FBI.
Following the revelation of advanced fingerprint scams, the Japanese immigration authorities might be required to enhance immigration control in the future. Immigration officers are already required to look at foreigners’ fingers if the fingerprint is blurred. While a large number of foreigners might have illegally entered Japan after the introduction of the biometric system, Japan might be compelled to further upgrade from two- to ten-fingerprint collection at airports. Even though DHS determined that the time to capture 10 fingerprints ranged from 48 to 64 seconds on average, two-fingerprint collection at airports has been already reported to stir anger among foreign residents and human rights activists.