Lower house OKs Japan-U.S. pact to share fingerprints of criminals

The House of Representatives endorsed a Japan-U.S. agreement Thursday that will enable the two countries to share fingerprint data of individuals suspected of involvement in serious crimes.

The pact, which is set to clear the Diet during the ongoing session with approval from the House of Councillors, makes it possible for the two countries to mutually provide fingerprint information upon request more swiftly than under conventional procedures through the International Criminal Police Organization.

Data sharing is expected to begin in the next few years.

The two countries signed the accord in February as Washington had called for its conclusion with countries which have visa waiver programs following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001.

The fingerprint data would be offered when travelers suspected to have been involved in serious crimes such as terrorism are detained and foreign criminal suspects remain unidentified after arrest.