The National Police Agency has enlisted science and 3-D imaging in an effort to predict facial changes in long-term fugitives.
The agency embarked on the project after receiving complaints that the recently arrested Aum Shinrikyo fugitives, including Katsuya Takahashi, 54, who had been on the run for 17 years, looked much different from the mug shots police had plastered on their aging wanted posters.
The National Research Institute of Police Science is preparing to fully start research this summer capitalising on three-dimensional facial data it has collected from some 100 people since 1999, officials of the institute said.
According to the institute, people’s facial shapes and the corners of their eyes, eyelids, jaws and mouth areas are all vulnerable to aging, while noses and ears change little.
The research team aims to develop a method to closely approximate how a fugitive might look by analysing the digitised 3-D data to determine the general rules for age-caused facial changes over 10 years, the officials said, claiming that this kind of research is rare.
“We want to predict changes in facial characteristics based on scientific data, not guesswork,” said Kazuhiko Imaizumi, head of the institute’s Second Biology Section.
The team hopes to complete the project in three years and make its achievements available for practical use, Imaizumi said.