The Nikkei stock index gained 0.13 percent to a fresh five-month closing high Monday, supported by solid manufacturing data in China and record closing highs on Wall Street Friday.
The Nikkei 225 index gained 19.86 points to finish at 15,369.28, while the broader Topix index of all first-section issues dropped 1.44 points, or 0.11 percent, to close at 1,267.48.
Market players here said the market got off to a good start following U.S. shares' solid performance, with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index closing at fresh record highs on Friday.
In addition the market's upside buying was also underpinned by solid figures from China showing that demand for its exports is improving as the government's stimulus program shows signs of taking positive effect.
The HSBC preliminary manufacturing purchasing managers index, a gauge of factory activity in the world's second-largest economy, rose to a seven-month high of 50.8, rising from 49.4 last month, HSBC Holdings PLC and data firm Markit said, with the latest reading showing the index had moved above the key 50 threshold line, showing that manufacturing is in an expansion phase.
"The data supports projections that China's economy will expand by around 7.4 percent in the April-June period from a year earlier, and this is a positive for global equity markets and the world economy at large," said one local analyst.
Other analysts suggested the market may be overheating following its extended run of solid performances, but that the upward trend would continue for now, thanks to domestic pension funds being in a risk-on mood and forcing international players to join the rally.
"Although there would be some position adjustments, the Nikkei seems to have entered an upward trend, ending its correction phase since the middle of last month," said Ayako Terada at Nomura Securities Co.'s investment research department.
In late afternoon trading, some players opted to lock in gains made before the bell, as the U.S. dollar edged down to 101.96 yen from 102.06 logged in currency markets in New york on Friday.
Honda closed the first trading day of the week in negative territory, reversing 0.6 percent to 3,602 yen and Nissan Motor Co. skidded down 1.5 percent to 984 yen, as the two companies issued recalls of around 3 million vehicles owing to faulty airbag components made by Takata Corp. here. The latest recall is connected to Toyota's massive recall last month for the same defects.
Optics and reprography maker Olympus was a notable advancer Monday, surging 4.9 percent to 3,620 yen, marking an almost six month closing high, after Goldman Sachs said the firm's first- quarter operating profit is likely to double from a year earlier to 16.5 billion yen (around 162 million U.S. dollars).
Oil-related issues also found favor, with Cosmo Oil jumping 2.3 percent to 224 yen, while JX Holdings finished at 546 yen, a rise of 1.9 percent.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries added 1.26 percent to 638 yen, following France's Alstom choosing General Electric's 16.8 billion U.S. dollar bid over a joint bid between Mitsubishi Heavy and Siemens to acquire part of its energy asset business.
Takeda Pharmaceutical was in the spotlight again Monday, dropping 2.4 percent to 4,723 yen, following a report at the end of last week claiming the company knowingly tampered with clinical research into its Blopress blood pressure-lowering drug in order to produce the results it wanted its researchers to find.
Heavily weighted Nikkei issue SoftBank relinquished 2.2 percent to finish at 7,613 yen, while rival NTT Docomo Inc. also lost ground, dropping 1.7 percent to close the day at 1,730 yen.
Trading volume on Monday dropped to 1.96 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, down from Friday's volume of 2.95 billion shares, with advancing issues outnumbering declining ones by 929 to 715.