Tokyo stocks opened 0.24 percent lower on Tuesday as investors await the outcome of a two-day US monetary policy meeting.
The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange was down 23.15 points at 9,510.60 at the start.
The benchmark index was expected to stay within a confined range as players refrain from taking strong positions before a US Federal Open Market Committee meeting starting on Tuesday, analysts said.
With currency markets also stable, trade in stocks was likely to be relatively subdued, Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of equities at SMBC Nikko Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.
The euro bought $1.2936 and 106.56 yen in early Asian trade compared with $1.2939 and 106.53 yen in New York on Monday.
The dollar was at 82.37 yen against 82.33 yen.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.11 percent to 13,169.88 on Monday, backed by hopes that a political deal over the looming fiscal cliff was in the works.
European stock markets mostly rose, though shares in Milan plunged after Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti announced his intention to resign in the latest twist to the eurozone debt crisis.