Tokyo stocks slipped 0.23 percent on Tuesday morning after the yen rose on a weaker-than-expected US manufacturing report and concerns over the eurozone.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index shed 27.62 points to 12,107.40 by the break, while the Topix index of all first-section shares was down 0.35 percent, or 3.52 points, to 997.05.
Tokyo's decline followed a slip on Wall Street Monday with investors cautious after last week's record highs for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the broader S&P 500 index. The blue-chip Dow slipped 0.04 percent to 14,572.85 on Monday.
"Anxiety over US shares, which have been hitting all-time highs, combined with the weaker dollar, could keep selling pressure on the Nikkei," Tachibana Securities market analyst Kenichi Hirano told Dow Jones Newswires.
The yen gained in Tuesday forex trade on the weaker-than-expected US manufacturing data and concerns over debt-ravaged Cyprus and a political stalemate in Italy.
The Institute for Supply Management said its closely watched US manufacturing index fell to 51.3 in March from 54.2 in February, reflecting growth for the fourth straight month but at a slower pace and rekindling fears about the world's biggest economy.
Investors are also looking to a two-day Bank of Japan (BoJ) meeting, which starts Wednesday, with the BoJ widely expected to launch aggressive policy measures after its first meeting under a new governor.
That view won support as bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda vowed Tuesday to live up to market expectations for "bold" monetary easing, which tends to weaken the yen.
In Tokyo stock trading, major exporters took a hit with Canon falling 2.82 percent to 3,265 yen, while Nikon tumbled 4.77 percent to 2,116 yen and Nissan declined 2.25 percent to 867 yen.
In morning forex trade the dollar bought 93.02 yen, weakening from 93.27 yen in New York on Monday afternoon, while the euro also weakened to 119.69 yen from 119.82 yen in US trade.