* Volume lowest since Dec 2011
* MUFG falls on report it will book writedown
* Earnings release to start on April 26
By Ayai Tomisawa
TOKYO, April 22 (Reuters) - Japan’s Nikkei edged up on Monday in choppy trade as investors stayed on the sidelines before the Golden Week holiday starts later in the week, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group underperformed on a report that it will book a writedown.
The Nikkei share average closed 0.1 percent higher at 22,217.90, after flitting between positive and negative territory.
Volume on the mainboard was 869 million shares, the lowest level since December 2011, while turnover stood at 1.6 trillion yen, the lowest since December 2017, due to thin trade as some global markets were closed for holiday.
Traders said that investors were likely to be defensive this week as they remained cautious before Japan’s 10-day holiday, also to mark the ascension of the new emperor, Crown Prince Naruhito, starting this weekend.
The Japanese market has gained 5 percent this month supported by stronger-than-expected Chinese economic data, which bodes well for sentiment in Japan Inc’s earnings. But as the Nikkei has hit a 4-1/2-month high this month, investors need more positive catalysts to chase the market higher, traders said.
“The market has priced in the positive news (from China) and it is waiting for another strong cue,” said Shogo Maekawa, a global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.
Either bright news from Japanese corporate earnings starting later in the month or a sign of economic recovery in Europe would push up the market further, he added.
On April 26, a slew of Japanese companies are scheduled to report their earnings, before the country enters the holiday. Companies slated to report their results on that day include Sony Corp, TDK Corp, Tokyo Electron, Hitachi Ltd and Komatsu Ltd..
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group fell 0.9 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that the bank will book a charge of about 100 billion yen ($893.34 million) in the year ended March after its credit card unit stopped development of a new system, but will keep its full-year profit outlook.
Flat knitting machine maker Shima Seiki dropped 1.7 percent after it cut its operating profit outlook to 4.3 billion yen from 8.0 billion yen for the year ended March as its clients slashed their capital investment amid falling production output.
On the other hand, Daiwa House jumped 6.8 percent after it raised its operating profit to 370 billion yen from 354 billion yen for the year ended March.
The broader Topix edged up 0.1 percent to 1,618.62.
Declining issues slightly outnumbered advancing ones 1,058 to 976. (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)