Japan said Thursday it wants Japanese soccer players and fans to have their safety guaranteed when the national team plays a World Cup qualifier against North Korea in Pyongyang on June 8.

Angry North Korean fans reacted violently when their team lost to Iran in a World Cup qualifier Wednesday.

“As many (Japanese soccer) supporters might travel (to Pyongyang), we would like to see firm safety steps taken for them as well as the players,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda told a news conference.

Hosoda said the Japan Football Association is expected to discuss the matter with FIFA.

“It is a necessary precondition that players can play safely and spectators be protected at international matches,” he said. “There are still more than two months before June 8 and I think steps will be taken by learning a lesson from this incident,”

On Wednesday in Pyongyang, angry North Korean fans reacted to their team’s 2-0 loss to Iran by pelting referees and Iranian players with beer bottles and cans, and later mobbing the Iranian team as it was being interviewed by journalists outside the stadium, requiring police to restore order.

Japan defeated North Korea in the opening match in Saitama in February, and the two sides will face off again in Pyongyang. The two are grouped with Iran and Bahrain in Group B for the final round of qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

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