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Japan tests full-body scanners, but has no plans to buy any

Date Posted: 2010-12-16

A three-month test of five different full-body scanner models at Narita International Airport in Tokyo has confirmed that the model which clearly shows the outline of a passengerís body has proven most effective in detecting chemical materials and other items that slip through metal detectors in airport security inspections, but the Transport Ministry says it has no plans to purchase any.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure Transport and Tourism says it will be drawing up guidelines this month to permit introduction of scanners at airports for security checks, but says it will be the responsibility of individual airlines to decide whether to buy such systems. The full-body scanners cost •20-•30 million each. Both Japan Air Lines and All Nippon Airways, the nationís two largest carriers, say they have no immediate plans for purchasing full-body scanners. The Ministry says the government is willing to cover 50% of the purchase and installation costs, with the carriers covering the other 50%.

A Narita International Airport Corp. official says it would be difficult to install full-body scanners unless the airport secures additional space. The Ministry says itís considering many things for the future, but says passengers should have the right to choose between scanner or manual inspections. It also concurs that body scan images should be checked by screeners of the same gender, and at a location that passengers cannot see. Once the passenger is through security, the Ministry says the scans must be destroyed, and that screeners must be required not to leak them.

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