Prime Minister Tony Abbott has touched down in Tokyo, the first stop in his week-long “trifecta of trade” trip to Japan, South Korea and China.
Mr Abbott on Saturday was met by Australia’s ambassador to Japan Bruce Miller and senior Japanese officials as he arrived on his first official visit to north Asia.
Australian and Japanese flags flew side by side alongside the tarmac as the prime minister disembarked his plane.
Japan, South Korea and China are the top three destinations for Australian exports, and two-way trade is worth $250 billion a year.
Mr Abbott wants to liberalise trade and open up these markets – starting in Japan.
He will be hoping to announce Australia has struck a free trade deal with Japan when he meets his counterpart Shinzo Abe next week, but that outcome is far from assured.
To clinch a deal with Japan after seven years of protracted negotiations would be a major coup for Mr Abbott.
He ambitiously promised at the September election to sign free trade deals with Japan, China and South Korea within 12 months.
He plans to ratify the Korean Australian Free Trade Agreement – finalised in December – during a visit to Seoul on Tuesday.