Tokyo stocks opened 0.20 percent higher on Thursday but analysts said trade was likely to lack direction as investors retreated to the sidelines a day ahead of Group of 20 talks in Moscow.
The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange was up 21.99 points to 11,273.40 at the start.
The benchmark index was unlikely to see much activity as participants take a wait-and-see mode ahead of the G20 meeting starting on Friday, Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager of research at Chibagin Asset Management said.
The Japanese yen has remained volatile amid speculation that Japan's easy-money policies could draw criticism from the G20.
The Bank of Japan is also to wrap up a two-day policy meeting Thursday but Okumura said "no action is expected," he told Dow Jones Newswires. "There will probably be little direction."
Just before the stock market opening, Japanese government data showed the world's third largest economy shrank in the last quarter of 2012, the third quarter of contraction as the nation's limp economy stayed in recession.
Tokyo said growth contracted 0.1 percent in the October-December quarter from the previous three months, but the world's third-largest economy grew 1.9 percent in 2012 from the previous year, when Japan was hammered by the quake-tsunami disaster.
The data hardly moved markets.
The dollar was at 93.27 yen in early Asian trade, compared with 93.46 yen in New York Wednesday afternoon.
The euro bought 125.41 yen and $1.3446 against 125.70 yen and $1.3450 in US trade.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.26 percent at 13,982.91 on Wednesday, apparently unaffected by President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech -- in which he pressed for more middle class-friendly policies and argued against big spending cuts.