Security Theater: The Ripple Effects (updated)

[See UPDATE below] I mentioned recently that the Japanese postal and express-shipment authorities had decided that parcels weighing more than a pound and headed for the United States would have to go by sea mail, which means many weeks in transit. Big corporate shippers were exempted. The Japanese officials said they had imposed the rule to cope with U.S. security regulations -- and they appeared not to be applying it to shipments headed anywhere else.

Dave Bull, a craftsman based in Japan (below, from his site writes about the effect this has had on his business.

He says:

>>I am a woodblock printmaker living in Tokyo, and with exports making up about two thirds of my business, the Post Office restrictions are having a huge effect.

The root cause seems to be a ban on the mix of cargo and _passengers_:

The post office here has been using cargo space booked from commercial airlines, and as that has been cut off, they are at a loss what to do:

As no such bans seem to be in place from other countries (at least according to a quick scan of various postal websites around the world), I would assume that other postal administrations are more nimble, and have arranged 'pure' cargo shipment alternatives. How long it will take the Japanese post office to wake up and work something out, remains to be seen ...

In the meantime, the only option for a 'small shop' like myself is to make bulk seamail shipments to a friend in the US, who will hold the goods and then send them on at my instructions as/when orders come in.

Just when - if ever - the US is going to work out how to co-exist with the rest of the world, is a question that seems as though it will provide endless 'entertainment' for quite some time yet to come ...<<

Even handed as always, I add this Japan Times story suggesting that the Japanese authorities have done as much as the Americans to over-react in this case. (Eg, some private shippers have gone back to a more flexible approach, while Japan Post is taking a hard line.) The impulse toward security theater knows no national boundaries.

UPDATE: Bull reports that the Japanese postal authorities have lifted the ban. They will resume shipments of over-one-pound parcels to the US, but say shippers should allow several extra days in transit, for screening and so on. Announcement of the change, in Japanese, here. When an English translation is ready, it will appear on their English site here. So, there are cases of security theater being undone. Encouraging in its modest way.