South Korea's eastern neighbor and the country with the fifth-largest military budget in the world, Japan, is keeping its guard up as tensions continue on the Korean peninsula.
Beginning with Prime Minister Naoto Kan's order for his cabinet members to stay in Tokyo and remain on stand-by until Wednesday, in case an emergency situation develops in Korea, the Japanese government is taking steps to prepare against a possible regional crisis.
On Sunday morning, Kan summoned three senior officials to the prime minister's office including Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and instructed them to address the tense situation between the two Koreas "in a firm manner without lowering our guard."
And reports of Japan's Self-Defense Agency deploying surveillance and patrol aircrafts as well as AWACS, an airborne radar system, have also been coming in.
The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's top financial daily, reported that Japan's defense ministry is even considering the deployment of its most advanced Aegis warship should North Korea show further signs of provocation.
Despite Tokyo's active steps to be prepared against any potential situation, some Japanese citizens are worried about regional security.
[Interview : ] "I am very scared. Korea is very close to Japan, so close that Japan could also be attacked."
Meanwhile, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that some 50 lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party called for an establishment of a new government agency, much like the CIA in the US, in order to buttress Japan's intelligence gathering capabilities in light of destabilizing events such as North Korea's provocations.
Kang Seok-ho, Arirang News.