The government Monday decided to take steps to prevent poisonous foreign fire ants from settling in Japan.

“A situation totally different from the past has been confirmed,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a meeting of relevant ministers. “The government will join forces to prevent fire ants from becoming an established species in the country.”

On Friday, the Environment Ministry said that fire ants are highly likely to have spread from the Aomi container terminal at the Port of Tokyo in Koto Ward.

At the meeting, the government confirmed countermeasures including plans to set up insecticide bait on the entire port premises and to investigate various areas, including those outside the 2-kilometer radius around the facility.

The government also decided to check 65 ports across the country for fire ants and take additional measures where necessary.

Japan has seen 45 fire ant cases since the first was confirmed in June 2017. Over 50 winged queen ants were found at the Aomi container terminal, with some of them likely to have flown to other areas.

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