A stronger yen generally weighs on export-oriented stocks in Japan as it affects their overseas profit margins when funds are converted to the local currency.
Among exporters, Toyota climbed 0.50 percent, Sony fell 1.10 percent, Honda was off 0.33 percent and Canon shed 0.30 percent.
Government data showed Japan's exports rose 1.3 percent on-year in January, less than the Reuters' median estimate of a 4.7 percent annual increase. Japanese exports to the U.S. fell 6.6 percent in January, while imports increased 11.9 percent. The overall trade balance came to a deficit of 1.09 trillion yen ($9.66 billion), compared with the median estimate for a 636.8 billion yen deficit, while Japan still enjoyed a trade surplus with the U.S. in January.
Harumi Taguchi, principal economist of IHS Global Insight, said in a note the trade surplus with the U.S. could continue to narrow from the increased imports of liquefied natural gas. She added, "Although this will help narrow Japan's trade surplus against the U.S., the surplus is expected to be a major topic after the high-profile meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime Minster Shinzo (Abe)."
SoftBank shares added 3.18 percent after a report said the company was willing to give up control of Sprint to T-Mobile U.S. to secure a merger between the two telecoms.
Across the Korean Strait, South Korea's Kospi index climbed 3.81 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,084.39.
Shares of Samsung Electronics closed up 2.11 percent at 1,933,000 Korean won. Reuters reported Samsung group chief Jay Y. Lee, who was arrested on Friday and spent the night in a detention cell, was taken on Saturday for questioning by South Korean authorities.
Lee is a suspect is an ongoing investigation into a corruption scandal that has led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Analysts told CNBC last week Lee's arrest was unlikely to have any impact on Samsung's global brand.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was up 0.61 percent in late afternoon trade, while Chinese mainland shares also advanced.
The Shanghai composite gained 39.38 points, or 1.23 percent, to 3,241.45, while the Shenzhen composite added 17.42 points, or 0.89 percent, to 1,962.52. The blue-chip CSI 300 index posted gains of 1.5 percent to 3,472.36, following media reports that pension funds may begin flowing into the Chinese stock market as early as this week.
Australia's shares fell, with the ASX 200 closing down 10.72 points, or 0.18 percent, to 5,795.09, with most sectors lower.
WorleyParsons shares dropped 12.78 percent after the company reported a fiscal first-half net loss of 2.4 million Australian dollars, compared with a profit of A$23.1 million in the year-earlier period.