Asian stock markets tumbled in risk-off trade on Wednesday, as mounting concerns over U.S. military action against Syria fuelled investor demand for safe haven assets.
Ongoing uncertainty over the timing of the Federal Reserve's widely expected reduction in monthly bond purchases also weighed. The Fed's stimulus program is viewed by many investors as a key driver in boosting the price of global equities.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei fell to a two-month low as the yen strengthened against the U.S. dollar, weighing on sentiment.
USD/JPY fell to hit a session low of 96.86, moving off the previous session's high of 98.34. A stronger yen reduces the value of overseas income at Japanese companies when repatriated, dampening the outlook for export earnings.
Automakers Toyota and Honda saw shares drop 2.3% and 2.4% respectively, while consumer electronics makers Sony and Sharp fell 3.5% and 2%.
Japanese megabanks were also lower with shares of the nation's largest lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group shedding 2%, while Mizuho Financial Group and Nomura Holdings declined 1.5% and 3.5% respectively.
Index heavyweights Fast Retailing and Softbank saw shares drop 0.8% and 1.9% respectively.
Bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students is at "epidemic" levels in Japanese schools, exacerbated by government's failure to institute effective policies, inadequate teacher training and strong gender segregation, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report released Friday. (Japan Times)
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British counterpart David Cameron agreed Thursday in London on the need to promote increased government spending and other economic measures to bolster the flagging global economy, while vowing to work together in fighting terrorism. (Kyodo)
Hokkaido Prefectural Police are questioning a man and his sister after the discovery of a body, believed to be that of their younger sister, inside the residence they all share in Sapporo, reports the Sankei Shimbun (May 5). (Tokyo Reporter)
East Japan Railway Co. said Thursday it has resolved a computer malfunction that caused all electronic signboards for shinkansen bullet trains to shut down the previous day, causing confusion for travelers during the Golden Week holiday period. (Japan Times)
The popular black bear character Kumamon resumed activities as the official mascot of Kumamoto on Thursday, three weeks after the southwestern Japanese prefecture was devastated by the first of two major earthquakes. (Japan Today)
A man was found dead after being run over by a car on a road in Mooka, Tochigi Prefecture, but police said Tuesday that he may have already been dead after being hit by another car earlier. (Japan Today)