Japan's Ontake volcano eruption
Volcanic smoke rises from Mount Ontake, which straddles Nagano and Gifu prefectures, central Japan.Reuters

Fears of fresh eruption of Mount Zao, a volcano that sits on the border of the Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures, rattled Japan after the country's meteorological agency recorded 12 volcanic earthquakes on Tuesday. 

The seismic activity prompted warnings of a volcanic eruption, with the agency asking the public to stay safe from falling rocks in a 1.2 km radius of the volcano, The Japan Times reported. 

The agency said that ash from the eruption can even reach beyond the radius, causing panic after last year's deadly volcanic eruption of Mount Ontake, which erupted without warning on 27 September and killed 60 people. 

The meteorological agency has advised neighbouring towns to raise alert levels in the areas close to the volcano. 

The warning will affect business at a popular ski resort, as well as mountain trails and restaurants. 

Mount Zao is among Japan's 110 active volcanoes and among the 47 identified for monitoring by the Coordinating Committee for the Prediction of Volcanic Eruptions.