Residents in Hokkaido are reported to be fleeing to higher ground and railway officials have ordered local trains there to stop, public broadcaster NHK reported.
 
Major quake
 
The first tsunami waves were expected to arrive shortly after 9pm (12:00 GMT).
 
Keiichi Kimura, a Hokkaido police officer, said there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the quake.
 
Earthquakes of magnitude seven are generally classified as being major and capable of widespread and heavy damage.
The Kuriles are known as the Chishima islands in Japan.
 
The Southern Kuriles, known to Japanese as the Northern Territories, are the subject of a territorial dispute between Japan and Russia.
A fifth of the world's largest earthquakes occur in or near Japan.