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Strong quake rocks Japan; no damage reported

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BEIJING — A forceful 6.8-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of southeastern Japan on Sunday, rattling buildings in Tokyo and jolting a nation still recovering from last year’s mega-disaster.

But the earthquake caused little apparent damage, with no initial reports of damaged buildings or injuries. It prompted no tsunami warning, and nuclear plants across the nation reported no irregularities.

The earthquake was centered near Japan’s Izu Islands, about 307 miles south-southwest of Tokyo, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake struck at a depth of 217 miles; such a deep jolt is less likely to cause damage than one close to the surface.

For those in Tokyo, this was among the biggest shakes since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake of March 11 that triggered Japan’s greatest crisis since World War II. Books fell off shelves, and buildings quivered.

Some roads were temporarily closed, but the train system was unaffected.

“Memorable start to New Year — about to greet Emperor and Empress for New Year when Imperial Palace began to shake,” John Roos, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, said in a message on Twitter.

The March 11 earthquake, which struck off the northeastern coast, led to the deaths of more than 20,000 and sparked a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Since that day, Japan — whose islands stretch along the world’s most seismically active region — has had at least 16 earthquakes or aftershocks of magnitude 6.5 or higher.

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