TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s ultramodern conveniences, its zippy bullet trains, automated ticketing systems and smart homes work just fine, until the power goes out.

The blackout across entire northern island of Hokkaido after a powerful earthquake struck early Thursday showed the weak link in all that technology.

It’s a problem shared by most affluent, and increasingly many other countries, but seems more apparent in this seismically overactive nation, where earthquakes and tsunamis are a constant threat and even the high-tech toilets have electronic flushes.

The magnitude 6.7 quake on Hokkaido’s southern coast knocked out power to nearly all 3 million households on the island, forcing essential services such as hospitals and traffic lights to use generators or other backups. Damage to some generators was likely to delay the full restoration of power for more than a week, officials said.

On Friday, with power restored to about half of all Hokkaido households, Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko urged residents to conserve electricity.

“Unplug appliances. Families should try to all stay in one room,” he said. “That can help us more quickly restore power in more places.”

The vulnerability of the electric grid was driven home most painfully in 2011 by a massive earthquake and tsunami on the northeastern coast of the main island of Honshu, and subsequent meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant. Shutdowns of reactors for safety checks put a chunk of Japan’s power generating capacity out of commission — straining supplies in this resource scarce nation.

Some 3 million households on Hokkaido, whose power supplies generally are only based on the island, were without electricity for nearly a whole day after the quake. After a long, dark night a large share of the lights were back on early Friday in the prefectural capital of Sapporo, a city of 1.9 million.

Without power, most tap water systems didn’t work. Traffic and street lights were dark and cellphones ran out of…

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