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Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012

Using CCTV to nab fugitives will test privacy


Amid strong concerns about privacy, Tokyo police are developing a security camera system that will automatically detect fugitives.

The development project has been accelerating since security cameras contributed to a series of high-profile arrests earlier this year.

In June, Katsuya Takahashi, 54, the last fugitive of Aum Shinrikyo wanted in connection with the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, was apprehended at a manga cafe in the Kamata district after images of him caught on street security cameras were made public.

Among other examples, a man wanted for an attempted murder at Tokyo's Shibuya Station in May was arrested two days later after a series of pictures taken by security cameras enabled police to trace him to a train station near his home.

The police and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government are working together on a three-dimensional camera system that will be able to identify wanted fugitives or terrorists instantly by facial features.

Cameras for the system are expected to be installed in airports and other crowded places, but a senior police official refused to disclose test details such as specific camera locations, saying disclosure would "hamper" police work.

Because the camera system will take pictures of ordinary citizens as well, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations warned in February that the system or other advances in security cameras could cause infringements of privacy that are not covered by law.

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