TOKYO: Tokyo stocks closed sharply lower on Thursday as fears grew of a full-scale war in eastern Europe after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "military operation" in Ukraine.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 1.81 percent or 478.79 points to 25,970.82, while the broader Topix index lost 1.25 percent or 23.50 points to 1,857.58.
Putin's announcement "is prompting further selling" led by investors seeking short-term profits, market strategist Hirofumi Yamamoto of Toyo Securities told AFP during afternoon trade.
"But if the situation doesn't develop into a Russian occupation of the whole of Ukraine, the market probably won't get worse," he added.
Fresh headlines flooded in during late Tokyo trade as explosions were heard in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, and several other cities, according to AFP correspondents.
The dollar fetched 114.55 yen in Asian trade, against 114.96 yen in New York on Wednesday.
In Tokyo trading, Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing dropped 3.82 percent to 60,940 yen, while SoftBank Group sank 6.83 percent to 4,802 yen.
Airlines also suffered sharp drops, with ANA Holdings dipping 4.74 percent to 2,434 yen and Japan Airlines diving 6.24 percent to 2,178 yen.