Tokyo stocks drifted lower Friday as investors awaited fresh news after a US market holiday for Thanksgiving.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index opened nearly flat then inched down 0.29 percent, or 81.60 points, to 28,301.49 in early trade, while the broader Topix index slipped 0.24 percent, or 4.87 points, at 2,013.93.
Japanese shares appeared vulnerable to profit-taking following recent gains, but also benefited from broad support after some European markets advanced overnight.
The dollar stood at 138.63 yen, little changed from 138.39 yen in London.
"Today it will be key to see if the Nikkei can maintain the stability it displayed until yesterday, given current conditions which are conducive to profit-taking," Monex said in a note.
The brokerage added that the Tokyo market lacked fresh trading incentives after the US holiday on Thursday.
Investors remain focused on the speed and scale of US rate hikes, while rising Covid-19 case numbers in China also pose nagging worries.
"The recent spike in infections is a real test for Chinese leaders," said Rodrigo Catril of National Australia Bank.
"Though no city-wide lockdowns have been announced, the widespread restrictions are increasingly paralysing economic activities," he added.
Shortly before the opening bell, government data showed that inflation in Tokyo's core urban region was up 3.6 percent in November, the sharpest rate of increase in four decades.
The capital's inflation rate is regarded as a leading indicator for national trends.
Among major shares, SoftBank Group added 0.51 percent to 6,095 yen. Energy developer Inpex added 1.04 percent to 1,552 yen.
Tyremaker Bridgestone lost 2.33 percent to 5,202 yen. Industrial robot maker Fanuc fell 0.51 percent to 20,640 yen.
Sony Group fell 0.43 percent to 11,640 yen.