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Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 10:10 am PT (01:10 pm ET)

Apple delays launch of iPad 2 in Japan in wake of earthquake disaster

Though Japan was originally scheduled to be one of a number of countries where the iPad 2 will launch next week, Apple announced on Wednesday that it has delayed the launch while the country works to recover from the recent earthquake and tsunami disaster.

The iPad 2 was supposed to go on sale in Japan on March 25. But on Tuesday, the delay was announced, and a new sale date was not revealed, according to Reuters.

"We are delaying the launch of the iPad 2 in Japan while the country and our teams focus on recovering from the recent disaster," Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris reportedly said.

The iPad 2 is still scheduled to go on sale March 25 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K. Apple has said that availability for many more countries around the world will occur in the coming months. Further international availability and pricing will be announced at a later date.

As Apple gears up for an international launch, the company has struggled to meet demand in the U.S., where the iPad 2 went on sale last Friday. Apple is believed to be completely sold out of its touchscreen tablet in all of its own retail stores, as well as partners' locations.

In response to the disaster in Japan, Apple over the weekend began accepting Red Cross donations through iTunes. Through a page devoted to the tragedy (iTunes link), users can donate in amounts of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 and $200. One-hundred percent of contributions will go to the American Red Cross.

An unnamed Apple Store manager also revealed that Apple retail stores in Japan have become a rallying point for citizens following last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami. Crowds have reportedly flocked to Apple's stores to stay connected, gain Internet access, and recharge their smartphones in order to make calls and reach loved ones.