Asian markets ended sharply lower Monday, ahead of central bank meetings in the U.S. and Japan this week and amid jitters over the upcoming referendum on whether the U.K. would remain in the European Union.
Japan's Nikkei 225 tumbled 582.18 points, or 3.51 percent, to 16,019.18, as fresh strength in the yen pressured stocks, with major exporters selling off. Shares of Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Sony closed down between 3.54 and 4.18 percent.
The yen strengthened against the greenback ahead of the Bank of Japan's (BOJ) two-day policy meeting starting June 15. Additionally, the yen is considered a safe-haven currency and increased concerns over the risk of a Brexit may be driving funds into the currency.
The currency pair traded at 105.83 as of 2:17 p.m. HK/SIN, compared with levels around 106.80 on Friday afternoon local time.
"The BOJ ... will likely delay a rate cut in the meeting, favoring a coordinated event when the government releases its fiscal stimulus package in Autumn," said Stephen Innes, a senior foreign exchange trader at OANDA Asia Pacific. "This delay will likely appreciate the yen over the short term if the BOJ remains sidelined."
Chinese mainland markets ended lower, with the Shanghai composite closing down 94.65 points, or 3.23 percent, at 2,832.50, and the Shenzhen composite off by 91.26 points, or 4.75 percent, at 1,827.35.
Investor confidence likely took a hit after official data released earlier on Monday showed China's fixed-asset investment growth eased to 9.6 percent on-year in the January-May period, reported Reuters. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected investment growth of 10.5 percent for the period.
The so-called Brexit was also on the radar for Asian investors.
"We judge that market uncertainty will remain elevated all the way into the Brexit referendum next week, as it is becoming clear that support for both camps are near evenly divided," said Wei Liang Chang, an FX strategist at Mizuho Bank. "Perceived negativity of a Brexit event should keep risk positioning light, and we expect a continued pare back of risk assets in Asia, to an extent."