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Japan to Tighten Immigration Rules

June 27, 2001

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan must strengthen its immigration controls in order to handle the rush of tourists arriving for soccer’s 2002 World Cup, the justice minister said Wednesday.

``Preparing the Immigration Agency for the rise in visitors is a matter of strict importance,″ Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama said.

The agency handles customs and visas for non-Japanese people entering the country.

Ministry spokesman Mie Usui said there are plans to tighten border controls but specific methods haven’t been decided.

Hundreds of thousands of soccer fans are expected to come for the sport’s showcase event, which Japan will co-host with South Korea next year.

The talk of tougher controls comes a month after a man believed to be the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il entered Japan with a forged passport.

Japanese officials caught the man _ who reportedly claimed he came for sightseeing _ on a tip from British authorities.

Also Wednesday, Japanese World Cup organizers mailed notices to the 140,000 people who were picked in the first of two rounds of a computer draw and will be eligible for the 490,000 tickets, a spokesman for the organizing committee said.

Around 15.46 million people in Japan applied for a chance to buy the tickets. A combined 1.3 million tickets will be sold in Japan and South Korea, and 1.5 million internationally. Another 200,000 will go to FIFA officials, media and observers.

In recent months, ticket sales have been marred by computer glitches, Web site problems and other delays caused by unexpected demand.

South Korea and Japan will host 32 matches each from May 31-June 30, 2002.