Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan
Tuesday said he has ordered his ministers to prepare for any eventuality after North Korea fired artillery shells on to a South Korean island.
"I ordered (ministers) to make preparations so that we
can react firmly, should any unexpected event occur," Kan told
reporters after an emergency meeting of cabinet members and
senior officials at his official residence.
"I ordered them to do their utmost to gather
information," he said.
The North Korean attack on the island near the border
between the two Koreas killed at least one South Korean marine
and triggered an exchange of fire as southern armed forces
went on their highest state of alert.
Kan said he planned to attend a scheduled event at the
imperial palace this evening, but said he will remain updated
on the situation.
"We will make preparations so that whatever happens,
we will be able to deal with it," Kan said.
The incident came after North Korea's disclosure of an
apparently operational uranium enrichment programme -- a
second potential way of building a nuclear bomb -- which is
causing serious alarm for the United States and its allies.
Japan has long regarded North Korea as a military
threat because of its nuclear and missile programmes.
Ties between Japan and North Korea have been tense for
years, with Tokyo taking a hard line over Pyongyang's military
programmes as well as the kidnapping of Japanese nationals
during the Cold War to train spies.
North Korea has also lambasted Japan for its past
aggression in Asia before and during the World War II and has
accused Japan of antagonistic posturing against the North.
First Published: Tuesday, November 23, 2010, 17:45