Japan's Nikkei share average slipped on Tuesday, with the equity market feeling downward pressure from a stronger yen, which hurts big manufacturers' export revenues.

The Nikkei lost 0.5 per cent to 19,487.71.

The yen advanced to a 12-day high, as investors sought safe havens due to fresh political uncertainty in Europe, where remarks by former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi raised the possibility of an early election and more strains within the European Union.

“Equities are wary of the ongoing appreciation by the yen, and they are also being swayed by the latest headlines from Europe,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.

“But while the market has reacted negatively to news from Italy, it is likely to gradually regain its footing as the possibility of the country leaving the European Union remains very low at the moment.”

Biotechnology company Takara Bio Inc rose as much as 2.35 per cent after it announced that it started the first test of a Phase II clinical trial of HF10, which could be used for the treatment of cancer.

Tokyo Keiki Inc was up 7.9 per cent as its midterm business plan was greeted positively. The manufacturer of defence-related electronic equipment expects a significant increase in profits thanks to orders for components used by fighter jets and reconnaissance helicopters.

Shares of companies engaged in child education gained on reports that making early education free of charge was a measure the Japanese government was looking to include in its latest economic and fiscal management plan draft.

Kindergarten operator JP-Holdings Inc rose 5 per cent, educational guidance service provider Kyoshin Co climbed 13 per cent and child education instructor Youji Corp added 2.5 per cent.

Takemoto Yohki Co dropped as much as 4.2 per cent on share dilution concerns. The manufacturer and distributor of plastic packaging containers will issue 500,000 shares of its common stock via a public offering and another 82,000 shares to a third party via a private placement.

The broader Topix slipped 0.4 per cent to 1,564.09 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 was also 0.4 per cent lower, at 13,943.06.