TOKYO  - An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 hit northern Japan Tuesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, issuing tsunami advisories for much of the nation’s northern Pacific coast. The epicentre of the earthquake, which was felt in Tokyo, was off the coast of Fukushima prefecture at a depth of just 10 km, the agency said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injury by the quake, which struck at 5:59am (2059 GMT).

Tokyo Electric Power Co was checking its nuclear plants in Fukushima for damage. Tohoku Electric Power Co said there was no damage to its Onagawa nuclear plant. Television footage showed ships moving out to sea from Fukushima harbours, as the meteorological agency warned of a tsunami of 3 metres (10 feet) for Fukushima, where Tepco’s Daiichi nuclear plant was devastated in a March 2011 quake and tsunami.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas. Japan accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater. The March 11, 2011, quake was magnitude 9, the strongest quake in Japan on record.