TOKYO, Dec. 20 (AP) - (Kyodo)—Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered his ministers Monday to stay on alert amid fears of a fresh clash between the two Koreas, as Japan urged North Korea not to use the South's planned military drill near their border as a pretext for further provocation.
"The Japanese government strongly urges North Korea not to take provocative action using this (drill) as an excuse," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said in a news conference after attending a meeting earlier in the day with Kan and other concerned ministers.
Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara told journalists that he reported to the meeting the content of discussions at the U.N. Security Council, following an emergency meeting convened Sunday to address growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Sengoku, the top government spokesman, said Japan would continue to work together with South Korea, the United States and other countries concerned at the U.N. Security Council to convey a "firm message" to North Korea.
North Korea has vowed to retaliate against South Korea if it goes ahead with its artillery exercise on the Yellow Sea island of Yeonpyeong, which was shelled by North Korea's military last month.
The Snooper Report.
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