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TOKYO, April 6 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks edged up on Wednesday morning as the yen retreated from a 17-month high against the U.S. dollar.
The Nikkei share average rose 0.3 percent to end the morning session at 15,777.13. It shed almost 12 percent in the quarter ended March 31.
The yen hit a 17-month high after comments by Japan's prime minister suggested the authorities were cautious over intervening to arrest the currency's appreciation, which had put downward pressure on a broad array of shares, including those tied to exports and inbound tourism.
"The 17-month high in Japan's currency throws the efficacy of Japan's quantitative easing efforts into question and this will no doubt be a cause for concern at the Bank of Japan," said Martin King, co-managing director at Tyton Capital Advisors.
Shares of Panasonic Corp fell 2.7 percent while Sharp Corp declined 0.8 percent.
Market participants said investors were concerned that Tuesday's abrupt end to a seven-week rally on Wall Street could mean that the Nikkei missed the window for a rally of its own. [ID: nL2N1781UR]
"Throughout March, Japan failed to respond to rallies and improving risk appetite seen in the U.S. and elsewhere, and while some were hoping Japan would catch up, the past few days have opened up the possibility that the rest of the world may catch down instead," said Stefan Worrall, director of Japan equity sales at Credit Suisse.
"The market is now posing big questions of Abenomics."
Osaka Steel Co Ltd shares plunged 6.5 percent after Nomura Securities cut its rating to "neutral" from "buy" based in part on weak domestic demand for construction steel.
Kyushu Electric Power Co surged 8.4 percent after a Japanese court rejected an appeal that would have led to the shutdown of its nuclear reactors in Sendai, Japan's only operating units.
The broader Topix rose 0.2 percent to 1,270.30 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 edged up 0.1 percent to 11,455.70. (Reporting by Joshua Hunt; Editing by Eric Meijer)