Narita Airport District Immigration Office
The international school network went to interview the Narita Airport in Japan. We were able to meet Mr. Akihiko Kitamura, the director of Narita Airport district immigration office, Mr. Oikawa, a Public Liaison Officer, and Ms. Rimi Yonezawa, an official in the ministry of justice. We also met Narita Airport’s official mascot character, TRIB, which stands for Tokyo Regional Immigration Bureau.
At Narita Airport
There is an average of 65,000 passengers per day travelling through the airport, which exceeds to 100,000 passengers per day during the summer or winter holiday season. There are two Japanese airline companies and 69 international airline companies at Narita Airport. This is why the airport is separated into 2 different buildings.
The role of the immigration bureau at Narita Airport
The immigration bureau’s task is to maintain the safety of Japanese people. There are three government offices run at the airport. The Customs office deals with items, Quarantine deals with diseases, animals, and plants, and
Immigration deals with people.
Mr. Oikawa explained that Japanese people often misunderstand the role of the Immigration department, thinking the immigration officers’ job is to check items that are brought back from overseas.
Immigration officers examine the people who arrive to Japan from overseas. They inspect the passengers’ information, by examining their passports, fingerprints, and face. The information obtained is then matched with the bureau’s list of information about previous crimes and overstays, to determine whether or not the person has permission to enter the country.
The immigration officers’ not only work at the airport, but work at the Tokyo Immigration Bureau in Shinagawa, where they are occupied in examination of the status of residence, or at the Ministry of Kasumigaseki, where they do office work.
Automated gates are the new convenient system for departure or arrival. This system allows for a more easy and efficient way of traveling in and out of Japan.
This operation began in 2007. The registration procedure to use the automated gates is very simple, as it takes only five minutes. A fingerprint scan takes place, and a sheet has to be filled out and given to a staff member along with their passport. There are currently 26 automatic gates in Narita airport. (Children under 12 cannot register due to changing fingerprints at young age.)
Experiencing Departure and Arrival at the Airport
A simulation of the departure and arrival method was conducted at the airport. Firstly, Ms. Yonezawa gave us imitation passports. The passports were stamped at the departure gate and arrival gate. The stamps were of TRIB, the mascot bird of the airport.
At the landing examination area, Europeans were lining up. A machine scanned their passports and fingerprints, as an officer checked their face, matching it with a photo on the screen. Mr. Oikawa explained to us that the passports have IC chips embedded in them, which contains their personal data and their photo. This checking procedure is very efficient.
What is something you take pride in about your job?
Mr. Oikawa: My main objective was to save Japan, so when I found a foreigner who had a forged passport, I felt pride in my job, because I felt like I was working directly to help for the Japanese people.
Ms. Yonezawa: While examining at the booth as an officer, I focused on making the examination process as smooth as possible for the passenger. When I found a person who was not allowed to enter Japan, I took them to next examination step. I felt like I protected the country, which motivated me to continue my work.
(Reported by Madoka Nishina)
Madoka Nishina 10th Saint Maur International School
Karen Nishina 4th Saint Maur International School