UK prime minister flies to Japan to lay groundwork for trade deal

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British prime minister Theresa May has travelled to Japan with the aim of laying the groundwork for a future trade deal between the two countries.

The UK's prime minister Theresa May has expressed hope that the foundations of a new trade deal with Japan can be laid during this week's visit to the Asian nation.

Mrs May has embarked on a three-day trip to Japan, during which she will discuss a number of key issues with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, with the two nations' post-Brexit trading relationship to be an area of focus.

The British prime minister has reiterated her government's commitment to bringing a swift conclusion to the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which she hopes can be used as the basis of a bilateral agreement between the UK and Japan shortly after Brexit.

Mrs May said: "Japan has long been a natural trading partner for the UK as a like-minded nation with a shared belief in free trade and a rules-based international system."

However, Japanese officials have warned that little concrete progress towards a new trade pact is likely to be made while the EU deal remains incomplete and the Brexit process is still ongoing, meaning Mr Abe's focus is likely to be on establishing details about Mrs May's Brexit aims.