Japanese soldiers and local government officials have begun slaughtering thousands of pigs in a bid to quash an outbreak of swine fever.
Japanese authorities are battling to contain swine flu after the virus was detected at multiple sites in central Japan.
Japanese soldiers and local government officials began slaughtering around 6600 pigs at a farm in Toyota City in Aichi prefecture following the confirmation of an outbreak of swine fever, also known as hog cholera, there.
Since January, the farm has shipped pigs to six facilities in Nagano, Gifu, Aichi, Mie, Shiga and Osaka prefectures, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. It said it had found the virus at all the above places except Mie.
The Nagano prefectural government also started the slaughtering of 2400 pigs at a farm in the village of Miyada.
The government could end up killing a total of 15,000 pigs, Kyodo News agency reported.
"We are facing a critical stage," Farm Minister Takamori Yoshikawa said at a ministry meeting.
In late January, the Gifu prefectural government culled about 2500 hogs in the seventh case of swine fever since September. Prior to that Japan had not had any cases of the virus since 1992.