Eruption sends smoke into the air over sparsely-inhabited southern island, but there is no evacuation warning.
A Japanese volcano has erupted, spewing ash several miles into the sky, prompting officials to warn people to steer clear of the threat of lava flows and falling rocks, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
Mount Aso, a tourist destination on the country’s main southern island of Kyushu, spewed plumes of ash 3.5km (2.2 miles) high on Wednesday when it erupted at about 11:43am (02:43 GMT), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
JMA raised its alert level for the volcano to 3 on a scale of 5, telling people not to approach, and warned of a risk of large volcanic blocks and pyroclastic flows within a radius of about 1km (0.6 mile) around the mountain’s Nakadake crater.
The agency added that the pyroclastic flows could widen to areas within about 2km (1.24 miles)
It also warned people of possible large cinders, according to public service broadcaster NHK.
Mt Aso’s nearest populated city is Aso, which has a population of about 26,500 people.
Ash falls from the 1,592-metre (5,222-foot) mountain in the prefecture of Kumamoto are expected to shower nearby towns until late afternoon, JMA added.
Mount Aso had a small eruption in 2019, while Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years killed 63 people on Mount Ontake in September 2014.
Japan has 110 active volcanoes and monitors 47 constantly.
Alongside volcanic eruptions, earthquakes are also common in Japan, one of the most seismically active areas on Earth. Japan accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.