The Nikkei 225 shed 3.2 per cent to close at 14,142.65, after its stalwart export sector was hit with wide-ranging losses. The benchmark in Tokyo has been on a tear, rising 36 per cent since the beginning of the year. The yen's steady fall against other major currencies has been a major market propellant but it reversed some of that decline Monday after reaching 103 to the dollar last week.
The yen's recent weakness has been a byproduct of the economic stimulus policies embraced this year by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has embarked on an aggressive campaign to lift consumer prices and encourage borrowing and spending. As part of that effort, Japan's central bank is flooding its financial system with money, helping reduce the value of the yen.
Nissan Motor Corp. dropped 6.8 per cent. Yamaha Motor Co. tumbled 7.9 per cent. Sony Corp. slid 6.3 per cent.
In early European trading, Germany's DAX rose 0.7 per cent to 8,365.43. France's CAC-40 advanced 0.9 per cent to 3,992.02. Markets in Britain and the U.S. were closed for public holidays.
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 reversed early losses to rise 0.3 per cent 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 per cent. Anton Oilfield Services, which is pursuing shale gas development in China, surged 8.3 per cent.
"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 per cent to 1,979.97. Benchmarks in mainland China and Taiwan rose. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.5 per cent to 4,959.90. Benchmarks in the Philippines, New Zealand and Indonesia fell.
Benchmark oil for July delivery was down 60 cents to $93.54 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 rose to $1.2942 from $1.2934 late Friday in New York. The dollar was at 100.86 yen down from last week's high of more than 103 yen per dollar.
Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/pamelasampson
Also on HuffPost