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.
Health minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Tuesday his ministry has strengthened anti-Ebola measures by obliging travelers arriving from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to report on their health conditions, even if they have had no contact with people infected with the deadly disease. (Kyodo)
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is to begin dismantling the cover of a reactor building to remove debris as preparation for taking out nuclear fuel from a spent fuel storage pool. (NHK)
The Japanese government said Tuesday it will settle a damages lawsuit with former workers at factories using asbestos in Osaka Prefecture, western Japan, that was sent back by the Supreme Court after their defeat at a lower court. (Jiji Press)
In possibly a legal first, a female civil servant on Tuesday sued the government over what she calls institutional sexism at the ministry she works for, citing almost two decades of blocked promotions and pay raises. (Japan Times)
Osaka Prefectural Police on Friday arrested two male suspects for allegedly dumping a large quantity of adult video (AV) material inside a park in Nishinari Ward, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Oct. 17). (Tokyo Reporter)