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In the foothills of Mount Fuji, a festival to the gods of the mountain. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) FUJIYOSHIDA RESIDENT AND FIRE FESTIVAL PARTICIPANT, KATSUHIRO KAWAMURA, SAYING: "We're trying to calm the fires of Mt Fuji, you know to stop it erupting." But the flames are burning faster now, here in the town of Fujiyoshida. After three centuries of silence, scientists say Mt Fuji could be heating up once again. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) EISUKE FUJITA, SENIOR RESEARCHER, EARTHQUAKE AND VOLCANO RESEARCH UNIT, NATIONAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR EARTH SCIENCE AND DISASTER PREVENTION, SAYING: "There are lots of examples where volcanoes have erupted after a nearby Magnitude 9 earthquake. That's what happened after the Kamchatka, Chile and Sumatra quakes. So there's an increased chance of an eruption at Japanese volcanoes like Mt Fuji since the earthquake here last year." 300 years ago ash spread over what's now Tokyo for two weeks -- and the government thinks it could happen again. (RUN GFX) Ash spreads from Fuji on Japan's prevailing winds. Heavy drifts then cover airports and block access by rail or road. Official estimates say the cost to Japan alone could reach 32 billion dollars. (END GFX) (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) TOSHITSUGU FUJII, DIRECTOR OF CRISIS & ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT POLICY INSTITUTE (CEMI), SAYING: "If you add in the time it takes to clean up the ash from airports, then planes won't be able to take off or land for more than a month." But so far, little's been done to prepare. And experts say the costs could be many times higher than predicted. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) EISUKE FUJITA, SENIOR RESEARCHER, EARTHQUAKE AND VOLCANO RESEARCH UNIT, NATIONAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR EARTH SCIENCE AND DISASTER PREVENTION, SAYING: "The government should prepare for a logistical nightmare. It's not done anything on that yet. They'll have to know how many millions of people, including tourists, they'll need to evacuate from around Fuji. They keep on saying they'll do something about...