Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso on Saturday touched on the possibility of shooting armed refugees from North Korea in the event of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula when he talked about Japan's response on the matter.

In a speech delivered in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, Aso, who also serves as finance minister, said, "Can police handle them? Will the Self-Defense Forces be dispatched and shoot them down? We'd better think about it seriously."

His remarks come at a time when tensions remain high as the United States and North Korea continue to criticize each other. In the event of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula, it is expected a large number of refugees could reach Japan from North Korea.

Citing an estimate that over 100,000 such refugees may arrive in northeastern Japan along the Sea of Japan coast such as Niigata, Yamagata and Aomori prefectures, and some of them could be armed, Aso said, "Will police respond and arrest them on charges of illegal immigration? If the SDF are dispatched, will they shoot them down?"

Aso added the government should also discuss where it would take such refugees in.

"It's a politician's job to think of (emergency) response. It may not be an event in the distant future," he said.