Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 2.1 per cent Thursday for the second straight day of decline on disappointing economic data in China and the United States, according to dpa.
The Nikkei lost 317.35 points, or 2.15 per cent, to end at 14,449.18 while the broader-based Topix index was down 23.96 points, or 1.97 per cent, at 1194.56.
In China, the flash purchasing managers' index by financial services company HSBC showed a reading of 48.3 in February, hitting a seven-month low, down from 49.5 in the previous month.
A figure above 50 generally means a positive outlook in the manufacturing sector, while below 50 is taken as a negative reading.
On currency markets at 3 pm (0600 GMT), the dollar traded at 101.93-95 yen, down from Wednesday's 5 pm quote of 102.05-06 yen.
The euro was quoted at 140.21-23 yen, down from 140.41-44 yen late Wednesday, and at 1.3753-3755 dollars, down slightly from 1.3758-3759