Japanese stocks erased earlier gains on Monday as profit-taking emerged, though retailers such as Mitsukoshi managed to hold firm despite the prevailing bearish mood.

The benchmark Nikkei ended the morning down by 0.26 percent at 15,639.83 after edging towards 15,800 and then falling back. The broader TOPIX was nearly flat, up 0.2 percent at 1,532.16.