Japan to step up measures against African swine fever

Japan's agriculture ministry has decided to step up measures aimed at blocking a pig virus that is spreading in South Korea.

Ministry officials say entrants to Japan will have their shoe soles disinfected at airports and seaports against African swine fever. They also say motor vehicles coming by ferry will be sanitized.

Ministry officials say the virus has been advancing in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan since December of last year. Almost all pigs and boars that get the disease die, though it doesn't transmit to humans.

Japan has yet to report any infections. But the lack of an effective vaccine raises concerns about the potential devastation an outbreak could bring to livestock.

Ministry officials say an infected wild boar was found near a South Korean ferry terminal that connects to Japan's Kyushu and other destinations. Kyushu producers account for about 30 percent of pigs originating in Japan.

The ministry is also concerned that the Lunar New Year holidays will see a wave of tourists traveling into Japan.

The ministry will work with prefectural governments to urge livestock producers to be on the alert.

Agriculture minister Sakamoto Tetsushi said the risk of the disease entering Japan has risen to an unprecedented level. He said he will work to guard against the virus by promoting a sense of crisis.