Tokyo stocks tumbled 1.90 percent on Tuesday as political concerns in Spain and Italy put the eurozone's long-running debt crisis back on the radar.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 213.43 points to 11,046.92 at the close, while the Topix index of all first-section shares was down 1.68 percent, or 16.05 points, at 939.70.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy came under pressure to step down after claims by El Pais newspaper that he and other ruling party officials channelled donations into secret payments.
Madrid's cost of borrowing surged, reviving worries about its ability to access the debt market.
Uncertainty was also growing over Italy after former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said he would refund the money Italians have had to pay for an unpopular property tax if his coalition, headed by protege Angelino Alfano, wins a February 24-25 election.
Recent polls have shown his party making solid gains.
Berlusconi, who would take the role of finance minister in a new government, abolished the real estate tax in 2008 but it was reinstated last year as part of Prime Minister Mario Monti's austerity budget in Italy.
The news from Spain and Italy raised fresh concerns about Europe.
"The market consensus has been that political stability will lead to the implementation of necessary policy steps," Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager of research at Chibagin Asset Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.
"These developments are casting a shadow on that," he added.
But Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of the equity division at SMBC Nikko Securities, said: "There is buying on dips. This is a good decline in recent overheated trading."
US stocks fell sharply, with government data showing industrial orders rose less than expected in December also weakening sentiment.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which ended close to record highs on Friday, dropped 0.93 percent to finish at 13,880.08.
Analysts said the index had been due for a breather after it closed Friday above the psychologically important 14,000 level for the first time in more than five years.
In Tokyo, Hitachi fell 6.34 percent to 531 yen after slashing its full-year profit forecasts on Monday, while Japan Airlines jumped 5.11 percent to 4,010 yen on news it had boosted its full-year outlook.
Fukushima operator TEPCO was down 2.39 percent to 204 yen as it said Monday that its full-year loss would be bigger than previously expected.
Fast Retailing was off 3.15 percent at 24,230 yen on weaker domestic same-store sales in January at its Uniqlo cheap chic clothing chain.
On currency markets, the dollar firmed against the yen, buying 92.41 yen compared with 92.11 yen in New York on Monday afternoon.
The euro bought 124.62 yen and $1.3485 against 124.28 yen and $1.3503. However, the single currency is well down from the $1.3626 and 126.26 yen seen on Monday in Asia.