30 May, 2005
Kazuo Kitagawa
Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome to Japan. My congratulations and best wished for the success of IATA’s 61st Annual Meeting in Japan.

It has been 46 years since the last IATA Annual Meeting was held in Tokyo in 1959. Looking back, then, the size of the international transport industry at that time was only a thirtieth compared to the present. It is amazing to think how significantly the industry has grown. I would like to express my respect and gratefulness for IATA’s contributions, which have led the industry, through cooperation among airlines, to develop a safe and efficient network.

I am the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. But, at the same time, I am also responsible for tourism. I would like to introduce our “Visit Japan Campaign—Yokoso Japan” to everyone here from all over the world. The goal of the “Visit Japan Campaign” is to double the number of visitors to Japan to 10 million by 2010. We are promoting travel to Japan in cooperation with the private sector. I am very grateful for the support we have received from IATA member airlines. As a result, the number of visitor to Japan increased by 18% to 6.14 million in last year. This year, the Expo in Aichi is being held, and our target is 7 million. I hope that you will have a chance to experience the many tourist attractions of our country. And please spread the word to the people around the world, and to bring more tourists to Japan.

According to IATA statistics, the global air traffic volume is expected to grow by 6% annually and even the higher growth is expected in Asia/Pacific region. International aviation is a vital basis for the global economy and for connecting people from different parts of the world. I am very much looking forward to seeing further growth of the industry.

As the demand for air transport grows, Japan needs to increase efforts to enhance the international transport network and strengthen cooperation between airlines. We will expand airport and airspace capacity to ensure the smooth development of international air transport.

With respect to airport capacity, we are steadily improving the facilities of the hub airports in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. More specifically, the new Chubu Airport opened in February this year, and we are making progress to open the second runway at Kansai Airport in 2007. At Narita Airport, we are making our best efforts to complete the expansion of the second runway.

Also, to expand the airspace for more efficient operations, we are making our way to utilise MTSAT. We successfully launched MTSAT 1 in February 2005, and the satellite is expected to start operating its air navigation system by the end of this year. I am hoping to reach our goal, which is to contribute to improvement of safety and more efficient operation of the air transport with MTSAT.

On the other hand, the safety and security of air travel are our top priorities for policy making. We will need further strengthening of these areas.

Needless to say, the most important service that air transport has to offer is safety. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport will further cooperate with ICAO and IATA to ensure safe air transport around the world.

With respect to security, since September 11, we raised our alert level at airports to the highest level. Our security level meets all the ICAO standards. We will not hesitate to work together with you to improve the security for smooth air transport.

Finally, leaders of well over 100 airlines are gathering here for the annual meeting to discuss a common agenda for the future of the airline industry. I hope the discussions will be fruitful. I sincerely wish a bright future for the industry.