The tsunami warning has been issued for the coastal regions of Ishikawa, Niigata and Toyama prefectures, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
People living in coastal areas have been urged to quickly evacuate as waves of up to 5 metres are expected to slam the shoreline, public broadcaster NHK said, and to remain in place until all warnings are lifted.
Follow our live blog for the latest updates on the earthquake here.
The earthquake that struck on New Year’s Day was felt by residents across Tokyo and in the Kanto area.
Several strong aftershocks have already hit the Sea of Japan in the hour after the initial earthquake, and the government has warned there could be more to come.
Waves with a height of more than 5 metres “may have reached” Noto in Ishikawa prefecture already, while waves of at least 1 metre have already hit the coast of Wajima city in Ishikawa, the broadcaster said.
Ishikawa was place under a major tsunami warning, while lower-level warnings or advisories have been issued for the rest of the northwestern coast of the island of Honshu.
Neighbouring South Korea’s meteorological agency said the seal level could rise in some parts of Gangwon province on the east coast after the massive earthquake in Japan.
Images on social media showed panicked people hiding under rocking tables as the earthquake hit and some visuals showed damaged houses in the aftermath of the tremblor.
Reports of damage are yet to be confirmed by officials.
Prime minister Fumio Kishida’s office urged authorities to “take thorough measures to prevent damage, such as the evacuation of residents” and prioritise human life above all else.
Government spokesperson Hayashi Yoshimasa said in an emergency press conference that authorities were still checking the extent of the damage and warned residents to prepare for possible further quakes.
Japan’s Hokuriku Electric Power Company said more than more than 36,000 houses were experiencing power outages following the earthquakes.
Hokuriku Electric Power said it is checking for any irregularities at its nuclear power plants, NHK reported.Located closest to the epicentre of the earthquake, the plant had already halted operations at its reactors for a regular inspection before the quake struck.
A massive earthquake measuring over 9 on richter scale in 2011 devastated towns and triggered meltdowns in Fukushima nuclear power plant. It was one of the strongest earthquakes in the history of Japan that killed more than 15,000 people and left more than 450,000 people homeless.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies