Nikkei falls 0.5%
Japanese shares surrendered early gains following an announcement by the health ministry that a man in Tokyo is being tested for possible Ebola infection. The Japanese man had returned to Japan from Sierra Leone earlier this month, where he stayed for eight days.
In the morning session, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index clinched a three-week high of 17,914 as traders digested news from Saturday that Japan's government approved stimulus spending worth $29 billion. Also boosting sentiment was a Reuters survey which showed that top Japanese firms are planning to use their cash reserves to boost shareholder returns in 2015.
Index heavyweights turned south in the afternoon session; Fast Retailing, owner of clothes brand Uniqlo, and mobile carrier Softbank receded 1 and 0.6 percent each.
Fujifilm Holdings was one of the exceptions which benefited from the Ebola news. The firm which said in November that it expected its Ebola-related drug to be approved as soon as the end of 2014, added 0.4 percent.
The yen, which was nearly flat after trading in a tight range all day, curbed gains in exporters. Toyota Motor reversed gains to settle down 0.4 percent, while Suzuki Motor and Nintendo extended losses to lose nearly 2 percent each.
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Mainland indices up
China's Shanghai Composite index trimmed gains to 0.4 percent late Monday, after hitting its highest level since December 2010 earlier on the back of a report which said that the People's Bank of China (PBOC) will change rules governing how loan-to-deposit ratios are calculated at banks starting from next year.
The move, seen as a boost for liquidity conditions, lifted the financials and insurers. China Life Insurance rose the maximum allowable of 10 percent while China Pacific Insurance rallied 6.8 percent.
Hong Kong reopened for trade after closing for the Christmas holiday last week. The Hang Seng index added 1.8 percent to reach a three-week high.
CITIC Securities, which announced that it is planing a new public issue of up to 1.5 billion Hong Kong-listed H-shares to supplement capital for its expansion, jumped 3.8 percent.