The decline came after Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Karoda said over the weekend Japanese interest rates could rise without causing instability, despite the country’s large national debt.
The Nikkei 225 shed 3.2 percent to close at 14,142.65, with exporters hit hardest due to the rising yen. That’s the reverse of the picture for most of this year, as yen losses have helped propel the index to a 36 percent gain since January.
Among major losers Monday, Nissan Motor Corp. dropped 6.8 percent. Yamaha Motor Co. tumbled 7.9 percent. Sony Corp. slid 6.3 percent.
The index also lost 7.3 percent on May 23, as investors have begun to wonder whether potential benefits of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s aggressive campaign to lift consumer prices and encourage borrowing and spending have already been priced in.
In European trading, Germany’s DAX rose 0.9 percent to 8,381.30. France’s CAC-40 advanced 0.9 percent to 3,994.25. Markets in Britain and the U.S. were closed for public holidays.
European Central Bank board member Joerg Asmussen said in a speech in Berlin that with the Eurozone countries in recession, the bank would continue to pursue easy monetary policy “as long as necessary.”
Cees Smit, director at Amsterdam brokerage Today’s Vermogensbeheer in Amsterdam, said most of the excitement in European stocks came in the morning.
“We were looking at Japan earlier and it was surprising how well European markets were reacting,” he said.
He said trade had quieted by the afternoon and stocks drifted off their earlier highs as investors began contemplating U.S. May unemployment figures due out Tuesday.
Other global markets were mixed.
Hopes for a global economic recovery were undermined last week when a survey on China’s monthly manufacturing pace showed a bigger-than-expected decline. Less-than-clear indications from the U.S. Federal Reserve on whether it might scale back its aggressive bond-buying program, dubbed quantitative easing or QE, also caused investors to curb their enthusiasm.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index reversed early losses Monday to rise 0.3 percent to 22,686.05 after pledges by China’s leaders to pursue sustainable growth helped push up alternative energy stocks. China Everbright International jumped 5 percent. Anton Oilfield Services, which is pursuing shale gas development in China, surged 8.3 percent.
“We have seen a lot of funds buying into shale gas, wind power and environmental protection,” said Jackson Wong, vice president at Tanrich Securities in Hong Kong. Wong also said that a recovery in mainland Chinese stocks helped the Hang Seng.
South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.3 percent to 1,979.97. Benchmarks in mainland China and Taiwan rose. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.5 percent to 4,959.90. Benchmarks in the Philippines, New Zealand and Indonesia fell.
Benchmark oil for July delivery was down 55 cents to $93.60 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 10 cents to $94.15 a barrel on the Nymex on Friday.
In currencies, the euro dropped slightly to $1.29324 from $1.2934 late Friday in New York. The dollar was at 101.09 yen, down from last week’s high of more than 103 yen per dollar.