It appears that before the large earthquake that did happen today (11th March 2011) there was a sequence of a pre-earthquakes. The pre-earthquake to the large Mw8.9 earthquake was a Mw7.2 (EMSC data) that took place on the 9th March 2011 at 02:45 UTC. This pre-earthquake was followed by about dozen or so aftershocks, the largest one being Mb6.2 (EMSC data).
The problem with this type of pre-earthquakes is that you cannot know that they are pre-earthquakes until after the large earthquake takes place. Because of that fact, it is only now known that the Mw7.2 was a pre-earthquake to the Mw8.9 earthquake that did hit Japan today (11th March 2011).