TOKYO, JAPAN — Japan reduced purchases of wheat after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged ports in the northeast region of the country, according to Bloomberg.

“We need to assess the extent of damage caused by the powerful earthquake,” Shirara Shiokawa, director of the agriculture ministry’s grain-trade division, said in a phone interview.

Japan wants to buy 32,381 tonnes of milling wheat in a regular tender on March 17, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said. The volume is 76% less than last week’s 135,832 tonnes.

Shipment is set from May 1 to May 31, Masafumi Otsuka at the ministry’s grain-trade division said by phone. The Canadian wheat is for delivery to Japanese ports located in the nation’s west, which were unaffected by the disaster, including Nagoya in Aichi prefecture, said Otsuka.

The ministry, which controls overseas purchases and domestic sales of wheat to stabilize supply, is Asia’s largest buyer as a single entity. It has bought 5.03 million tonnes this fiscal year through regular tenders, surpassing the 4.26 million tonnes in the year ended March 31, 2010.