Overseas travelers face random frisking at Japanese airports

September 13, 2012

By YOSHIHITO KAWAMI/ Staff Writer

Passengers on flights out of Japan will face random frisk searches at airports from October.

The transport ministry said the pat-down body searches for departing passengers at all 29 airports in Japan with international connections were in line with other counterterrorism measures now in place.

An inspector will run his or her hands along a person's outer clothing to determine if the passenger is concealing explosives, weapons or other prohibited items on their body or in their clothing. Random frisk searches are widely practiced in airports worldwide.

Currently, all passengers for international flights at airports in Japan are required to pass through a metal detector gate before boarding. If an alarm sounds, a passenger is asked to submit to a body search.

Starting in October, however, security officials will be allowed to frisk passengers if they have any concerns about particular individuals.

In addition, an automatic alarm will sound to authorize random checks on passengers.

The procedure was introduced elsewhere in Asia, and Europe, after a 2006 terrorist plot was uncovered involving aircraft bound for the United States and Canada from Britain with liquid explosives.

The International Civil Aviation Organization has asked its members to conduct either full-body scanning or random body searches.

The transport ministry tested several types of full-body scanners at Narita International Airport in 2010.

However, they scanners were not introduced because of their high price (tens of millions of yen, or hundreds of thousands of dollars per unit) and concerns that scanning would be a time-consuming process.

Instead, the ministry has been testing the pat-down body search procedure since summer 2011.

The ministry and airline companies say they are bracing for complaints from passengers about the new security procedure.

By YOSHIHITO KAWAMI/ Staff Writer
  • 1
submit to reddit
Passengers line up for immigration procedures and baggage checks prior to boarding at Haneda Airport's international terminal in Tokyo. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Passengers line up for immigration procedures and baggage checks prior to boarding at Haneda Airport's international terminal in Tokyo. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Toggle
  • Passengers line up for immigration procedures and baggage checks prior to boarding at Haneda Airport's international terminal in Tokyo. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

More AJW