June 22 (UPI) -- A prominent Japanese politician is drawing controversy after suggesting ordinary North Koreans should be "starved to death" as a "solution" to Pyongyang's missile provocations.
Governor of Ishikawa Prefecture Masanori Tanimoto said Wednesday during a meeting of local government officials that "the people of North Korea should be starved to death," by cutting off their food supply, the Sankei Shimbun and Jiji Press reported.
"The things North Korea is doing are beyond violence," Tanimoto said. "If we do not enforce sanctions that are painful to the North Korean people, there is no meaning."
"We cannot just let them not understand that they must wake up and realize 'We have the wrong leader'," the Japanese politician added.
Tanimoto said the North Korean threat has serious implications for people living in northwestern Japan, in the Hokuriku region.
"What are we going to do when the Shika Nuclear Power Plant of Hokuriku Electric Power Company becomes a target?" Tanimoto said. "We must not prevent a military attack that could lead to death by starvation of the North Korean people."
Tanimoto was suggesting attacking North Korean food warehouses or blocking supply channels to weaken the enemy, according to Japanese press reports.
The governor later retracted his comments but expressed frustration about North Korea's growing provocations.
"Why should we train for evacuation?" he said.
Japan has conducted several civilian evacuation drills in the spring.
Tokyo also conducted a simulation exercise for its self-defense forces in June that prepared troops for a North Korea ballistic missile attack.
North Korea has launched a dozen missiles in 2017. Many of the projectiles fell in the Sea of Japan.