Footage taken from a webcam shows the changing smoke around Kuchinoerabujima
The level four warning issued for Kuchinoerabu - or Kuchinoerabujima - tells residents to prepare to evacuate and is only one step away from mandatory evacuation orders.

Kuchinoerabu is located to the south of Japan roughly 1,000km south-west of Tokyo and has been suffering volcanic earthquakes and increased sulphur emissions at a peak on the island.

The warning had been at level two, which asked residents to avoid approaching the crater.

At present some 100 people live on Kuchinoerabu.

What happened the last time Kuchinoerabu erupted?

Aerial view of Kuchinoerabujima island in Japan
Aerial view of Kuchinoerabujima island in Japan
Three years ago, the mountain erupted explosively, vomiting ash and smoke thousands of meters into the sky.

The eruption on May 29, 2015 caused ash to rise 30,000 feet into the air.

Pyroclastic flows of superheated ash an gas surged from the volcano into the sea.

The entire population of Kuchinoerabu evacuated the island when this eruption struck, returning when the activity had settled.

Where is Kuchinoerabu island?

Kuchinoerabu-jima is a small island that contains no industries or companies and is located 12km west of Yakushima.

The island has no airport and can only be accessed by boat, with islanders dependent on fishing, agriculture and seasonal tourism.

Kuchinoerabu is the largest volcanic island in Satsunan Islands and Tokara Archipelago in Kagoshima prefecture.

Kuchinoerabu is also believed to be a collection of ten different volcanoes.

There are 110 active volcanoes in Japan, with 47 under constant monitoring.

Japan has had a barrage of natural disasters of late.

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck in Osaka in June injuring more than 300 people and killing five.

The earthquake resulted in the closure of Panasonic and Daihatsu factories.

A blazing heatwave followed in July which killed more than 100 and reached temperatures of 41.1C.

The Japanese emergency services saw a surge in emergency calls during the unprecedented heatwave and saw water sprinklers installed on Tokyo streets to keep residents cool.

Most recently this month Typhoon Shanshan triggered heavy rains as it drifted across the Pacific Ocean.

Despite not hitting Japan directly, the edge of the typhoon caused fierce winds and heavy rain at the south-east coast.