The Japanese government will implement measures against venomous fire ants, an insect of overseas origin first discovered in Japan in May last year, ahead of their peak activity during the hot season.
Fire ants are native to South America. Until last month, they have been spotted 27 times in 12 prefectures since their first discovery in a shipping container in western Japan.
Relevant government offices held a meeting on Tuesday to share their action measures. About 30 officials from the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, as well as other agencies, took part.
An environment ministry official said the insects do not appear to have taken root in Japan yet, but the government has to brace itself for their possible spread.
This year, the government plans to conduct 2 surveys on fire ants at 68 major ports across Japan, once in the summer and once in the autumn. It also plans to distribute leaflets to inform the public, including children, about the features of the insects and their potential dangers.
It has already sent a manual to those handling shipping containers about how to confirm the insects and how to eradicate them.