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Today every activity concerning culture, society, and economy in our life is closely connected with active exchanges with foreign countries. Under these circumstances, civil aviation provides an essential means of transport, particularly for Japan, a country surrounded by sea, which makes it necessary to promote the smooth exchange of people and goods in order to stimulate the society and economy and to improve international competitiveness.
Since the 1970s, civil aviation in Japan has grown steadily in terms of passenger and cargo volumes, although it suffered from the impact of the simultaneous terrorist attacks on the US in 2001. Currently, the scale of its operations is one of the greatest in the world. According to the demand forecast for air services by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the future growth rate in the Asian market will be the highest in the world, thus, the role of Japan in civil aviation is important.
Development of airports in major metropolitan areas is currently being promoted in order to deal with the increase demand for air services. The expansion project has been launched at Tokyo International Airport, as well as the promotion of further development at Narita International Airport, Kansai International Airport and CHUBU CENTRAIR International Airport. In addition, the government is now promoting the Visit Japan Campaign (VJC) nationwide, with the aim of establishing Japan as a tourist destination. Efforts are therefore also being made to improve conditions for the convenience of foreign travelers by creating a multilingual environment at airport facilities.
Concerning aviation security, measures to prevent hijacking and terrorism have been greatly strengthened in Japan since the terrorist attack on the US on September 11th through improved cooperation between the government and the aviation industry throughout the country. In addition, Japan has made remarkable contributions to the improvement of international aviation security mainly by supporting the ICAO financially and assisting capacity building efforts in other countries.
Along with the development of air transport, it becomes more and more important to ensure aviation safety. For this purpose, safety measures are being actively introduced on the basis of new technology and in accordance with international standards, through the activities such as: 1) aircraft inspections, 2) competence certification for airmen and 3) supervision of the operation and maintenance systems of the air carriers.
On the basis of the new CNS/ATM plans of the ICAO, the installation of next-generation aviation safety systems is also being promoted. As the core of such next-generation systems, regarding multifunctional transport satellites (MTSAT) both for aeronautical missions, including air traffic control, and for meteorological missions, including weather observation, the new No.1 MTSAT was launched in February 2005.
As mentioned above, by considering civil aviation from a global perspective, Japan is intending to continue to fulfill its major role in the development of the world's aviation networks.