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Japan seeks EU deal on passenger information

Tokyo / DPA

The Japanese government plans to start talks with the European Union to conclude a deal that would require EU airlines to provide Passenger Name Records, a move aimed at beefing up antiterrorism defences at Japan‘s borders.
According to sources, EU airlines that have routes to Japan would have to provide this electronic record before a flight departs. The government believes this will enable the detection of people who pose a security risk trying to enter Japan via Europe.
The government has launched a review of immigration control systems following the killing of Japanese hostages by the IS extremists. In April 2015, Japanese customs authorities started to use a system that collects the electronic data of PNRs for every passenger on every flight that lands in Japan. The Immigration Bureau introduced the same system in January this year. If a cross-check of the PNR with existing data records reveals a passenger is a security risk, authorities will be notified before the flight arrives and the passenger will be prevented from entering the country.
Although the government has almost finalised data collection agreements with airlines from the United States, Asia and elsewhere, European airlines have resisted demands to submit passenger records due to concerns over the protection of personal information. Europe has traditionally held deep concerns about human rights and the protection of personal information, and it is possible such an agreement with Japan could conflict with the protection of personal data stipulated by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Although only 3 percent of all flights arriving in Japan come from EU nations, many passengers from the Middle East and other regions come to Japan via Europe. The Japanese government needs to close this loophole through which people who are security risks could enter the nation after passing through Europe.
The United States, Canada and Australia have signed agreements covering the handling of personal information with the EU. The Japanese government believes striking a deal on personal information with the EU, rather than asking individual airlines to supply this data, “is the most realistic option,” a senior
government official said.

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