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TOKYO, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks rose on Thursday, taking comfort from surveys showing contractions in China's manufacturing activity may have bottomed out and on pockets of strength among Japanese firms despite the crunch felt by weak external demand.
A day after closing out its worst quarter in more than 5 years, the Nikkei share average tracked gains on Wall Street overnight and rallied 1.9 percent to close at 17,722.42.
Market players said the rise was driven in part by the various pension funds that front-load buying at the start of the second fiscal half.
Softbank gained 2.8 percent after it was announced that the Japanese telecom giant had led a $1 billion investment in U.S. financial technology startup SoFi, a company focused on student loan refinancing.
Automakers outperformed as China's tax cut on small cars took effect, halving the tax burden on cars with less than 1.6 liter engines from Oct 1 through the end of 2016.
Toyota Motor Corp shares climbed 2.6 percent and Nissan Motor Co had its stock rating upgraded to 'outperform' from 'neutral' by Credit Suisse and gained 5.1 percent.
The Topix subindex for real estate rose 4.8 percent, benefiting from expectations of further monetary easing by the Bank of Japan ahead of its October 7 policy meeting, market participants said.
The broader Topix climbed 2.2 percent to 1,442.74, closing the day with 31 of its 33 subindexes in positive territory.
The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 gained 2.3 percent to close at 12,919.07. (Reporting by Joshua Hunt and Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)