TOKYO, March 31 (Kyodo) -- Japan will launch a civil aviation security program Friday to beef up airport surveillance, requiring airlines and airport administrators to X-ray in-flight meals, pillows and other goods brought onto planes, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry said Thursday.
The program requires airline companies and airport administrators to take appropriate steps in accordance to the alert level. Other measures include strengthening checks to guard against suspicious persons approaching aircraft in the parking apron.
Security alert in Japanese airports has been in the highest level, called Phase E, since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
From Friday, the alert will be set permanently at Level 1, which will replace the term ''Phase E,'' and be raised to Level 2 or Level 3 accordingly if certain flights are under the threat of attacks.
Sources said earlier the ministry compiled the program hastily to prepare for inspections in fiscal 2005 of Japan's security measures by the International Civil Aviation Organization. Japan's fiscal year begins April 1.