Japanese stocks fell as much as three percent on Monday as the yen strengthened against the dollar and semiconductor stocks suffered a sell-off.

The Nikkei index sank to 38,496.66 in afternoon trade before bouncing back to sit 2.91 percent lower.

The broader Topix shed 3.14 percent, or 85.66 points, to 2,641.14.

Iwai Cosmo Securities said "falls in US high-tech shares including chip giant Nvidia, and the yen's rise against the dollar" were spooking investors.

The yen advanced to 146.60 per dollar.

Among the biggest losers were SoftBank Group, which fell 6.91 percent, while chip-testing equipment maker Advantest gave up 6.13 percent and Mizuho Financial Group dropped 5.60 percent.

Japanese semiconductor stocks have risen sharply in recent months on the back of bullish expectations for growth in demand for chips used for artificial intelligence technologies.

Last week the Nikkei broke 40,000 for the first time, having in February broken the record set just before Japan's asset bubble burst in the early 1990s.