Between 16th and 18th November 2009, the German Space Operations Centre was host to visitors from the Far East. Under the leadership of Flight Director Masao Nakai, a delegation of the Japanese Flight Control Team, which operates the Japanese laboratory Kibo docked to the International Space Station (ISS), took the effort of traveling all the way to Germany. The main objective of the visit was to share their expertise with the European Columbus Flight Control Team in Munich. Department Head Thomas Kuch welcomed the flight controllers from Tokyo and congratulated the Japanese partners on their outstanding and successful missions of recent months. In May 2009, installation of the Japanese module, JEM, was completed during a third Space Shuttle flight. In September, the maiden flight of the unmanned Japanese cargo spaceship, HTV, was absolved without any problems.
During their visit, the Japanese space experts worked intensively with their European counterparts, exchanging experiences gained in their cooperation with the colleagues from "big brother", NASA. Both teams also looked for ways of optimizing operations processes. As a gift to their European hosts, the Japanese guests presented a plaque which was mounted in the Control room during a small ceremony.
Japan is, besides Europe, the United States, Canada and Russia, one of the International Partners operating the International Space Station.