TOKYO: Tokyo stocks rose 0.38 percent Wednesday, boosted by a sharp decline in the yen while investors welcomed a cabinet shuffle by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Nikkei 225 index climbed 59.75 points to finish at 15,728.35, the highest close since January, while the Topix index of all first-section shares was up 0.35 percent, or 4.52 points, at 1,301.52.
Abe's shake-up saw a number of women brought in, making up nearly a quarter of the appointments, in line with his broader plan to boost the number of women in Japan's workforce.
The market-friendly appointments saw Abe keep his finance, economy and foreign affairs ministers in their jobs while the trade ministry was given to Yuko Obuchi, the first woman in the post.
Close ally Yasuhisa Shiozaki was chosen to head the health, labour and welfare ministry which oversees Japan's massive public pension fund.
Shiozaki is reportedly in favour of shifting more of the bond-heavy fund's assets into stocks in a bid for higher returns.
In forex trade, the dollar has made strong gains against the yen over the past couple of days with strong US manufacturing data underlining a recovery in the world's number one economy.
"(The data) should keep upward pressure on the dollar, which will, in turn, make Japan stocks attractive," said SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi.
The dollar on Tuesday broke above 105 yen on Wall Street for the first time since January and finished at 105.10 yen. It managed to hold above the level in Tokyo Wednesday, sitting at 105.02 yen.
A weaker yen boosts exporters as it inflates their profits when repatriated.
Also in focus were policy meetings by the Bank of Japan and European Central Bank.
Shares in struggling chipmaker Renesas soared 17.16 percent to end at 1,024.0 yen on a report that it planned further job cuts as part of a restructuring.
All Nippon Airways rose 1.05 percent to 257.7 yen as the the carrier and Germany's Lufthansa announced an air cargo tie up to battle intense competition from budget airlines on passenger routes.
Electronics giant Sony jumped 2.67 percent to 2,073.0 yen while Toyota gained 0.28 percent to end at 6,077.0 yen.
Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal fell 1.60 percent to 294.9 yen after an explosion hit its steel plant in central Japan, resulting in at least 13 injuries. (AFP)