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.
The 16-year-old girl in the city of Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, suspected of killing and dismembering a high school classmate did not hold a grudge against the victim, investigative sources said Tuesday, retracting an earlier view that there may have been personal problems between the two. (Japan Times)
A record high 13.5 percent of existing housing units in Japan were vacant as of last Oct. 1, up 0.4 percentage point from five years earlier when the survey was last conducted, the government said Tuesday. (Kyodo)
McDonald's Holdings Co. (Japan) apologized Tuesday for a recent scandal over chicken meat provided by a Chinese producer, promising to do "whatever it takes" to ensure the safety of food on its menu. (Kyodo)
On July 7, Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested 30-year-old Ikki Jin for allegedly slipping a sleeping powder into an alcoholic drink consumed by a 23-year-old male and robbing him of a total of 350,000 yen in cash and valuables in February. (Tokyo Reporter)
Coverage of Hyogo prefectural assemblyman Ryutaro Nonomura's July 1 televised tantrum is finally winding down in the mainstream media. But on the Internet, where a YouTube video of his press conference registered over 2 million views in just two days, it's still going strong. (Japan Today)
During her first court hearing at the Tokyo District Court last week, Kasumi Tochinai, a former employee at staffing agency Pasona who has been charged with possession and use of stimulant drugs, came up with a few creative explanations for how she could have tested positive for illegal chemicals in her system. (Tokyo Reporter)
A series of anonymous murder confessions were posted on the popular 2channel Internet forum Saturday evening, prompting police to investigate their possible link with the death and dismemberment of 15-year-old Aiwa Matsuo in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture. (Japan Times)
Eleven people died, one person remains unconscious and two are missing after water-related accidents across Japan over the weekend, police and Fire and Disaster Management Agency officials said Monday. (Japan Today)