Police say rescue workers have recovered another body from a landslide triggered by a powerful earthquake in northern Japan, bringing the confirmed death toll to 12.

Police spokesman Naoshi Tokunaga says the body is the third pulled from a hillside construction site that collapsed during last Saturday's magnitude 7.2 quake, burying 15 workers in hardest-hit Miyagi prefecture (state).

Twelve of the workers were able to pull themselves out, but three others were killed.

A dozen people have now been confirmed dead in the earthquake, with 10 others still missing and more than 300 injured.

The death toll was relatively low because the earthquake hit sparsely populated rural areas of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures.