Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has warned that North Korea may be capable of firing a missile loaded with sarin nerve gas toward Japan.

Abe's comments Thursday to a parliamentary panel on national security and diplomacy come amid looming concern about another missile or nuclear test by the communist country.

Responding to a question about Japan's readiness at a time of increased tension, Abe told lawmakers that North Korea may already have the capability to shoot missiles with sarin as warheads.

A U.S. navy aircraft carrier is heading toward the Korean Peninsula as Pyongyang prepares for the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il Sung this weekend.