The giant mudslide in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture, which occurred around 10:30 a.m. local time, came after parts of the area were hit by torrential rains.
Police and firefighters searched for the missing, and prefecture officials called for help from the Japanese Self-Defense Force.
As of 2 p.m. local time, about 2,830 homes in the city were without power, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Company.
The government has set up a task force to respond to the disaster and collect information as heavy rainfall sweeps through areas along the Pacific coast in central and eastern Japan.
Heita Kawakatsu, governor of Shizuoka prefecture, expressed his “deepest sympathies” to those affected by the landslide and to “those who were forced to evacuate,” he said on Saturday in a statement. press conference.
Kawakatsu warned more rain is expected and said residents should watch out for more landslides. “There are a lot of places where the ground is loose, so evacuate the dangerous places, listen to the city and town news and make sure you and your family are safe,” he said. .
So far, evacuation orders have been issued for people around Tokyo, as well as in Shizuoka and Aichi prefectures, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
Authorities have issued landslide warnings for parts of Shizuoka, Kanagawa, Chiba and Yamanashi prefectures, NHK reported.
The rain front is expected to move toward the Sea of Japan coast over the weekend, with areas along the coast expected to see torrential rains on Monday and Tuesday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, which also warned against landslides and flooding in the lowlands. .
“Japan has a lot of risk factors leading to landslides. For example, it is prone to its mountainous terrain and a lot of places where the ground is made up of volcanic ash, which is not as strong.” said seismologist Robert Geller, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, told CNN.
“Global warming is making everything worse and increasing the frequency of precipitation which can cause damaging landslides,” Geller added. “The rainy season is going to last another week or 10 days. Due to global warming, we are probably getting more precipitation now than usual.”
CNN’s Larry Register contributed to this report.