Japan's government on Tuesday urged people against panic-buying of food and supplies, as the country grapples with a massive natural disaster and resulting nuclear crisis.
Daily necessities are in desperately short supply in the northeastern region worst-hit by Friday's earthquake and tsunami.
But many store shelves are also half-empty in Tokyo convenience stores and supermarkets as people stock up, fearful of a possible disaster at a stricken nuclear power plant on the eastern coast.
Consumer affairs minister Renho, who uses only one name, warned that if people put pressure on the supply of basic goods, "quake-hit areas could be unable to receive relief supplies", Kyodo News agency reported.
Speaking at a press conference, she added that "we will have to keep a close watch on price trends".