“All residents must evacuate immediately to higher ground,” Al Jazeera quoted NHK as saying after the quake hit the Noto region in Ishikawa prefecture around 4:10 pm local time (07:10 GMT). It said another earthquake warning had been issued for Ishikawa.
According to Japanese and US agencies, hazardous tsunami waves of up to 5 metres high (16.4 feet) were possible along the north coast of central Japan within 300km (186 miles) of a magnitude 7.5 quake’s epicentre.
Authorities are still checking the extent of the damage, government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi said in an emergency news conference, warning residents to prepare for possible further quakes.
NHK is also reporting that several houses and power poles have collapsed. Railway services have also been suspended on the Joetsu Shinkansen line said East Japan Railway.
Japan is one of the countries in the world most at risk from earthquakes. A huge earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan on 11 March 2011, killing nearly 20,000 people, devastating towns and triggering nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima.