A powerful magnitude 7.4 earthquake off northeastern Japan late Wednesday left three people dead and more than 180 injured across 12 prefectures, and caused a high-speed shinkansen to derail.
Workers on Thursday rushed to repair damage to railway tracks after the derailment, while about 34,000 homes in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, where the temblor was strongly felt, remained without water.
The Self-Defense Forces were dispatched for disaster relief in Fukushima and Miyagi to provide water service in areas where supply has been disrupted.
A Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train derailed between Fukushima Station and Shiroishizao Station, but all 78 passengers and crew members aboard were unharmed, according to East Japan Railway Co.
JR East subsequently halted the operation of bullet trains between Nasushiobara Station and Morioka Station, and whether it can resume from next week remains unclear.
The operator added that the bullet train service between Fukushima and Sendai stations running in that section is unlikely to resume within this month, pending restoration work. Shiroishizao Station is located between the two.
The quake also caused power outages in northeastern and eastern Japan, affecting a total of more than 2.2 million households, including some 700,000 in Tokyo, according to TEPCO Power Grid Inc. and Tohoku Electric Power Network Co. Power was later restored to most.
According to East Nippon Expressway Co., the section connecting Shiroishi in Miyagi and Kunimi in Fukushima on the Tohoku Expressway fully reopened, after cracks were found along a 50-meter stretch.
The operator also aims to open the Joban Expressway on Friday after it was partially closed.
The 11:36 p.m. quake left many Japanese, particularly those in northeastern Japan, unsettled, as it was reminiscent of the M9.0 quake on March 11, 2011, that devastated the region and triggered a nuclear crisis.
But the Japanese government said there have been no problems with safety at nuclear power plants in the quake-hit areas following the Wednesday night quake.
The quake, which occurred in waters off Fukushima, was also felt across a wide swath of the country. Injuries were reported in not just Miyagi and Fukushima but also Iwate, Akita, Yamagata, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Saitama, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Chiba and Niigata prefectures, a Kyodo News tally showed.
As of Thursday morning, 476 schools and universities temporarily closed in the four prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima, data collected by the education ministry showed.
Meanwhile, some manufacturing companies including Toyota Motor Corp. were forced to suspend factory operations in the Tohoku region.
The automaker said it halted its daytime operations at a plant in Iwate, while semiconductor maker Renesas Electronics Corp. stopped operations at its factories in Ibaraki and Gunma.
As for logistics, Yamato Transport Co. said deliveries to Hokkaido in northern Japan and the Tohoku region could be delayed, while Japan Post Co. and Sagawa Express Co. said there have been delays in delivery of packages in the areas.