Fast forward to earlier this week. The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced a new policy under whichyespassengers traveling through Japanese airports with international flights may now be subjected to random searches.
Right now passengers get pat-downs only if they light up metal detectors at checkpoints. Starting in June about ten percent of all passengers will be pulled aside for a search, which the Japanese insist will "act as a deterrent to terrorism, including acts involving explosives and weapons which metal detectors do not pick up." Yeah OK.
There are arguments about random searches vs. profiling going back to the immediate aftermath of 9/11. By the mid-2000's those were full-blown debates, complete with computer simulations measuring the percent of bad guys nailed randomly vs. how long it takes terrorists to reverse engineer profiles. Those debates were never really resolved.
What did happen is that the U.S. spent a decade with people uselessly screaming back and forth at each other, mostly to no avail. Some airports eventually had to resort to putting up movie posters to ease the dehumanization of airport security (?!?). So in a way we're glad the Japanese are opening this can of worms. Why should Americans have all the fun?
[Photo: katorisi / Wiki Commons]