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Tokyo stocks closed down 1.27 percent Wednesday as the yen rose on concerns about uncertainty in Italy, while Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke said the bank would stick to its loose monetary policy.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 144.84 points to 11,253.97, while the Topix index of all first-section shares was off 1.35 percent, or 13.05 points, at 953.72.
"The risk-off trade is back, at least temporarily, as reflected in currency movements," an equity trading director at a foreign brokerage told Dow Jones Newswires.
"While there is relative calm over US markets now, jitters regarding Italy and Europe can't be discounted. Some institutions are taking money off the table."
Final results of Italy's parliamentary elections showed the coalition of leftist leader Pier Luigi Bersani had won the lower house but no party had taken the upper house.
Bersani warned that the huge anti-austerity protest vote that left the Italian parliament at an impasse was a warning for leaders across the fiscally-troubled continent.
Italy's inconclusive national elections raise fears about whether debt-hit Rome will continue with its unpopular austerity measures aimed at paying down its debt.
Investors fear failure to do so could have repercussions around the eurozone.
In Asian currency markets investors flocked to the safe-haven yen on Europe fears while the dollar was mixed after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the US central bank's stimulus policies would remain in effect.
The greenback was weaker at 91.70 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade, from 91.93 yen late Tuesday in New York, while the European single currency slipped to 119.76 yen from 120.08 yen.
In stock trading, Japanese exporters fell on the stronger yen. Canon lost 2.70 percent to 3,235 yen, Honda was down 2.48 percent to 3,330 yen, and electronics giant Panasonic was off 1.78 percent at 659 yen.
Japan Tobacco was 0.76 percent higher at 2,902 yen, rebounding slightly after slipping Tuesday as the firm said it had bought back about 250 billion yen ($2.7 billion) of its own shares ahead of a wider $10 billion sale of part of the Japanese government's stake in the firm.