A strong earthquake on Friday shook the northeast coast of Japan, the region that was devastated by a tsunami in March last year, but there were no reports of deaths, injuries or serious damage.

The 7.3 magnitude earthquake, which hit at 5.18pm Tokyo time, triggered tsunami warnings along the northeast coast. State broadcaster NHK said a 1m-high tsunami wave had reached the coast of Ishinomaki city in Miyagi prefecture at 6.02pm. The warnings were later lifted.

The tremor measured a “weak 5” on Japan’s scale of seismic intensity. An earthquake with such an impact can sometimes damage houses or cause interruption to water and electrical services. The effects of the quake were felt in the capital, Tokyo, about 300km south of the epicentre, where tall buildings swayed.

Japan’s meteorological agency said the earthquake’s focus was about 10km below the Pacific Ocean off the Miyagi coast.

Friday’s earthquake was far smaller than the magnitude-9.0 tremor that hit in the same area on March 11 2011, unleashing a huge tsunami that destroyed whole towns and left more than 18,000 people dead or missing.

The tsunami defences of many cities and towns in the region were destroyed in 2011 and many have not yet been rebuilt, leaving port facilities and communities with only temporary sea walls and dykes.

Tokyo Electric Power, operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said it had found no problems at its nuclear plants in the area following Friday’s quake. The 2011 tsunami destroyed Fukushima Daiichi’s safety systems, triggering the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

The yen briefly surged against major currencies in the minutes after the quake, gaining almost 0.2 per cent against the US dollar and more than 0.3 per cent against the euro, before falling back as haven flows retreated.

Additional reporting Ben McLannahan in Tokyo

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