Tokyo stocks jumped 1.88 percent Friday morning, driven by a weaker yen after the frontrunner to become Japan's next prime minister said he would push for aggressive central bank easing.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange was up 166.19 points at 8,995.91 by the break while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares rose 1.55 percent, or 11.41 points, to 748.92.
Japan's main opposition leader Shinzo Abe, tipped to be next prime minister after a December 16 election, on Thursday called for "unlimited" easing by the Bank of Japan (BoJ), and vowed to strike a deal with the central bank over further policy measures if he snatches the country's top political job.
The comments from Abe, who is also seen by investors as business friendly, pushed the yen down on speculation of further easing, which tends to weigh on a national currency.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was to dissolve the lower house of parliament later Friday ahead of the elections, "giving the market a sentiment boost as it continues to factor in more aggressive BOJ easing", Kenichi Hirano, market analyst at Tachibana Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires.
Abe, leader of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, was tipped to unseat Noda and his Democratic Party of Japan as the ruling party's fortunes have sunk in opinion polls.
Hopes that further easing would inject new life in the slowing Japanese economy, the world's third-largest, helped the Tokyo market buck overnight falls on Wall Street and Europe's main stock markets.
The falls were driven by weak forecasts from US retailers, and news that the eurozone had fallen into recession, traders said.
Worries over a budgetary deadlock in Washington and rising tensions in the Middle East as Israel launched a new air assault on Gaza also weighed on sentiment.
In Tokyo trade, exporter Canon rose 5.13 percent to 2,680 yen and Honda Motor climbed 4.21 percent to 2,569 yen.
On currency markets, the yen remained weak after tumbling on Thursday following Abe's easing comments.
The dollar bought 81.13 yen in Tokyo trade, sharply up from the 80.20 yen level a day earlier, and almost unchanged from 81.16 yen in New York late Thursday.
The euro bought 103.61 yen against 102.17 yen in Asia a day earlier and 103.69 yen in US trade, while the common currency bought $1.2774 against $1.2778 in New York.