A man looks at his watch as he passes an electronic board displaying a graph of currency rates outside a brokerage in Tokyo.

Tokyo - Tokyo stocks rose 0.37 percent Wednesday, bolstered by gains on Wall Street and as dealers locked in dividends before the start of the next tax year in April.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 53.97 points to finish at 14,477.16, while the Topix index of all first-section shares edged up 0.72 percent, or 8.37 points, to 1,172.07.

Traders were unmoved by news that North Korea had test-fired two ballistic missiles in the morning.

Under the Tokyo Stock Exchange's settlement rules, March 26 is the last day to secure payouts on stocks for the fiscal year ending on March 31.

The dollar was at 102.30 yen in afternoon trade against 102.25 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon.

Overall few investors are willing to take strong positions either way in the market, Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities, said.

“It's a seasonal pattern of disinterest. But as far as expectations go for wholly new money flows as the new fiscal year begins (April 1), those hoping for a 'new atmosphere' are likely to be disappointed, since there will be a carry-over effect from March.”

Drug stocks, which traditionally sport some of the highest dividend payouts, outperformed.

Ono Pharmaceutical jumped 6.08 percent to 9,410 yen and Astellas Pharma climbed 3.27 percent to 5,920 yen.

Cyberdyne - which makes a battery-powered exoskeleton robot suit to help mobility for elderly and disabled people - surged 160 percent to 9,600 yen on its debut as it listed on the Mothers start-up section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The firm, which did not trade in the early session as buy orders overwhelmed sell orders, moved between 7,950 yen and 10,010 yen in the afternoon.

North Korea test-fired two medium-range missiles early Wednesday, as US President Barack Obama hosted a landmark Japan-South Korea summit and pledged “unwavering commitment” to Tokyo and Seoul in the face of Pyongyang's nuclear threat.

(Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story.) - Sapa-AFP