Tokyo stocks closed lower on Thursday as profit-taking erased early gains generated by the prospect of a state of emergency being lifted in western Japan later in the day.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.21 percent, or 42.84 points, to close at 20,552.31, while the broader Topix index lost 0.23 percent, or 3.48 points, to 1,491.21.
Shares opened higher because "hopes are growing as the government is expected to lift the state of emergency for Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo later today," said Okasan Online Securities.
Japan last week lifted a state of emergency imposed due to the coronavirus for the majority of the country, but kept it in place for top cities Tokyo and Osaka.
Later Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is expected to lift the state of emergency for Osaka and neighbouring regions Kyoto and Hyogo.
But shares closed in negative territory "as investors locked in profits by selling shares which rose recently," Daiwa Securities chief technical analyst Eiji Kinouchi told AFP.
While there was a general feeling in the global market that the worst of the pandemic has passed, rising China-US tensions continue to cast a shadow over trading floors, along with growing signs of a looming economic catastrophe.
According to data released before the opening bell, Japan booked a trade deficit of 930.4 billion yen ($8.7 billion) in April, with exports dropping 21.9 percent and imports down 7.2 percent year-on-year.
The dollar traded at 107.20 yen in Asian afternoon trade, against 107.55 yen in New York late Thursday.
In Tokyo, blue-chip exporters were mixed. Toyota lost 0.82 percent to 6,362 yen with SoftBank down 1.29 percent at 4,480 yen.
But Sony gained 0.71 percent to 6,795 yen with Nintendo up 1.92 percent at 45,060 yen.
Nissan rose 0.41 percent to 382.6 yen after a father and son suspected of helping fugitive former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn flee Japan were arrested in the US Wednesday.