Apple Inc. released the latest model of its iPad tablet device in Japan Thursday after delaying its launch for a month because of the March 11 disaster in Tohoku.

Compared with the original iPad that debuted last May, the iPad 2 has a dual-core processor that is twice as fast and that will enable the 9.4-inch touch-screen device to run games, e-books and Internet applications faster than before.

It is also 33 percent thinner and up to 15 percent lighter than the previous model, Apple said.

The launch was originally slated for March 25 but was postponed because of the disaster. Its new debut date was officially announced late Wednesday.

Softbank Corp., the data services provider for the iPad in Japan, often organizes events to celebrate new Apple releases, but refrained this time out of respect for public sentiment in the wake of the disasters.

Still, many people appeared excited about Apple’s latest gadget, with hundreds lining up as usual on the sidewalks outside its stores.

“Even before the quake, I had decided to buy it,” said a 47-year-old employee at an electronics firm who had come all the way from the western Tokyo suburb of Hachioji to wait in line with roughly 270 to 300 other people in front of the Apple store in Shibuya, Tokyo.

A 32-year-old man working for an IT firm who bought the first iPad said he expects to be able to use the new one more casually because it’s thinner and lighter.

The Wi-Fi-only model of the new iPad is priced between ¥44,800 and ¥60,800, with 16, 32 and 64 gigabytes of storage to choose from. The 3G/Wi-Fi model has the same storage options but is priced from ¥56,640 to ¥72,720.

About 20 million iPads combined have been sold worldwide.

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