Tokyo stocks plunged Friday on a broad selloff sparked by news that a militant group has taken three Japanese civilians hostage in Iraq.
The 225-issue Nikkei average plummeted 195.08 points, or 1.61 percent, to close at 11,897.51 in its third-largest single-day point loss so far this year.
This was the first close below the key 12,000 line in four trading days.
The broader Topix index of all first section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell 19.03 points, or 1.57 percent, to close at 1,190.86, marking its first finish below the psychologically important 1,200 threshold in four trading sessions.
Shares in all sectors drew selling amid mounting security fears fueled by the kidnapping of the Japanese nationals by a terrorist group in Iraq, brokers said.
The group is threatening to kill the hostages if Japan does not decide to pull its Self-Defense Forces troops out of the southern Iraqi city of Samawah within three days.
Investors opted to take profits from recent gains due to uncertainty over how the crisis will unfold, brokers said.www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nb20040410a1.htmE-mail this article