Japan's Nikkei average slipped below 9,700 on Tuesday as investors took profits on bluechips after February's rally and concerns mounted of a near-term correction, while attractive valuations and the softer yen supported market sentiment.
China-related shares extended losses for the second session after the world's second-largest economy cut its 2012 growth target to an eight-year low of 7.5 per cent, as Beijing looks to reduce reliance on external spending and foreign capital.
Profit-taking accelerated in major exporters, with Honda Motor down 1.5 per cent, Sony off 0.8 per cent and Panasonic shedding 1.1 per cent.
Instead, investors picked up defensive sectors like pharmaceuticals and utilities, up 0.4 and 1.9 per cent respectively.
"The market is operating predictably, with some degree of caution," said Stefan Worrall, director of equity cash sales at Credit Suisse in Tokyo.
"Possible catalysts that led in recent weeks, the European Central Bank's LTRO (long-term refinancing operation), econ-omic data out of the US, and Bank of Japan. We are now faced with a loss of tailwinds," he said.
The benchmark Nikkei fell 0.4 per cent to a one-week low of 9,656.37 by the midday trading break, while the broader Topix slipped 0.3 per cent to 830.01.
Among China-related shares, construction machinery maker Komatsu slipped 2.1 per cent and industrial robot maker Fanuc shed 3 per cent. Hitachi Koki, a power tool manufacturer, was down 3.1 per cent.
Japan's China 50 sub index declined 0.9 per cent.
"The news of China cutting its growth outlook came out during market hours and although there was selling of China-related stocks afterwards [in Japan] they are extending losses based on US markets' reaction to the news," said Masayuki Doshida, senior market analyst at Rakuten Securities.
Trading volume on the Nikkei at the trading break was at 65.1 per cent of its average 90-day full day volume.