Shoppers confront bare shelves at Tokyo supermarkets-Far from the quake’s epicenter

Supermarkets in the Tokyo region have been stripped bare of food and other daily necessities in the wake of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, producing shortages across the national capital region. Hoarding was apparently sparked by the quake and tsunami damage done to factories, as well as difficulty in obtaining raw materials caused by chaos in the distribution network, and the prioritization of the devastated northeast in the provision of basic supplies. The trend was spurred to the current extremes by the rotating blackouts imposed to conserve electricity after the quake knocked out a number of nuclear power stations.

Consumer worries that the blackouts will halt operations at factories producing staple items appear likely to continue for some time, despite Consumer Affairs Agency calls for calm.