Britain stands “shoulder to shoulder” with Japan as it faces an increased threat from North Korea, Theresa May told her counterpart as she arrived in Kyoto.
In a second day of talks on Thursday, the Prime Minister and Shinzo Abe will “explore” fresh sanctions against the rogue state, No 10 said.
Mrs May landed in Japan 36 hours after Pyongyang sent a missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, which landed in the Pacific Ocean.
A No 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister told Prime Minister Abe the UK stood shoulder to shoulder with Japan in the face of North Korean aggression.”
Downing Street said the length of the time Mrs May and Mr Abe spent together on the first day of the three-day trip was “unusual” and showed the “strength and continuing positive relationship” between the pair.
The premiers met at the Omotesenke tea house in Kyoto, where the tea-making ceremony dates back to a man called Sen no Rikyu, the 16th century founder of the tradition.
BREXIT AND JAPAN TRADE
Japan has made repeated pleas for clarity on Brexit and emerged as a vocal advocate of Britain staying within the European Union.
Britain and Japan have established deep rooted trade ties spanning the breadth of business, from the automotive industry and machinery, to pharmaceuticals and retail.
Around 879 Japanese companies employ 142,000 staff in the UK, according to figures from the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) and the Japanese Embassy.
And the Asian nation has made significant investment in The City of London, with Japanese banks treating the UK capital as a financial gateway to the rest of Europe.
This commitment to Britain has sparked a bullish response to Brexit from Japan.
Japan’s interest in Brexit included despatching a diplomat from its London embassy to Gibraltar earlier this year on a fact-finding mission to understand the implications for the Rock.
In September, Japan wrote a letter to the British Government urging it to keep free movement of people and remain in the single market and customs union.
It also called for a transition period for Japanese companies to help shield them from the “unpleasant surprises” that could arise from uncertainty.
This sentiment was echoed on Tuesday by Japanese diplomat Shinichi Iida, who warned that Japanese firms remained “concerned” about the Brexit process.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What Japanese businesses are expecting in my view is the clarity and the predictability over the process to come, particularly the recent agreement within the UK Government for the provisional period will be a very important factor because it will give the time and adaptability for the Japanese companies to adjust to a new environment after Brexit.”