Taoiseach Micheál Martin has begun a four-day official trip to Japan and Singapore.

The focus of the visit will be to reinforce bilateral relationships and to signal Ireland's commitment to engagement with both countries and to growing Ireland’s relationship with the Asia-Pacific region.

Ireland's trade with Japan, the world's third-largest economy, is valued at €16 billion annually.

Of this, Irish exports accounts for nearly €12bn, which consists principally of agri-food products, pharma and medical supplies, information and communication technology, and financial services.

Speaking on the first day of his official visit, Micheál Martin said it was a privilege to be there to reinforce and strengthen the relationship between Ireland and Japan.

He said that globally Ireland and Japan share a lot and that "we are on one mind" on many global issues.

Mr Martin said Ireland's two-year term on the UN’s Security Council will be coming to an end shortly and Japan’s term will be commencing.

He said he will be taking the opportunity to meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tomorrow to go through some of these issues, specifically Indo Pacific security.

More than 1,100 Irish citizens live in Japan and the country is Ireland's 11th largest trading partner, along with the largest source of foreign direct investment into Ireland from Asia.

Currently, 38 Japanese companies employ more than 7,000 people in Ireland, while Irish companies in Japan employ over 2,000 people.

As part of the Global Ireland Strategy, the State has strong ambitions to strengthen and enhance trade and bilateral ties between the two countries.

A Government plan to develop a €22m large showcase, state-of-the-art Ireland House in Tokyo is hoped to be a platform to project an enhanced presence in the region.

Projected to be completed in 2024, it will host the Irish Embassy, IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia and Tourism Ireland.

The Taoiseach will visit the site during his official visit to Japan.

Fumio Kishida

He will also offer Ireland's condolences to Japan following the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

In Singapore, Mr Martin will meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong.

He will also meet a number of Irish companies operating in Singapore and engage with the Irish community.

This is the first official visit to Japan by a taoiseach since 2013 and the first to Singapore since 2004.