TOKYO, April 22 (Reuters) - Japan's Nikkei share average rose on Monday, recouping some of the previous session's sharp losses, although declines in chip-related stocks capped the advance.

The Nikkei had risen 0.72% to 37,334.97 by the midday break. It climbed as much as 1% earlier in the session.

On Friday, the index fell 2.66% in its worst session in more than a year and a half amid worries over an escalation in the Middle East conflict.

"The Nikkei fell so much on Friday that it was natural for investors to buy back stocks today," said Shuji Hosoi, a senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.

"Overall, the market was firm except for the chip-related stocks, which tracked their U.S. peers' declines at the end of last week."

U.S. chip-related stocks tumbled on Friday, with the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index falling 4.12%. The index recorded its biggest weekly percentage decline in nearly two years with a plunge of 9.23%.

Japanese chip-making equipment maker Tokyo Electron slumped 4.06%, shedding 121.6 points off the Nikkei, which lost 266.6 points in the morning session.

Chip-testing equipment maker Advantest fell 3.85% and chipmaking device supplier Disco slipped 4.6%.

Fabless system-on-chip design company Socionext fell 5.6% to become the biggest percentage loser on the Nikkei.

Nissan Motor fell 2.62% after the automaker slashed its annual operating profit estimate by 14.5% on Friday, citing lower-than-expected vehicle sales and other factors.

The broader Topix was up 1.41% at 2,660.84, showing the strength of overall stocks.

Some 90% of the more than 1,600 stocks listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange rose.

Utilities stocks advanced, with Kansai Electric Power rising 5.61% to become the biggest percentage gainer on the Nikkei. Chubu Electric Power climbed 4.53% and Osaka Gas gained 4.69%.

(Reporting by Junko Fujita; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)