JAPANAESE Prime Minister Shinzo Abe paid a surprise visit to Titanic Belfast on Tuesday afternoon.
It comes ahead of a jobs announcement on Wednesday by a Japanese firm based in Co Antrim.
Mr Shinzo Abe stayed behind after the G8 summit in Co Fermanagh to see the city’s premier tourist attraction.
Through an interpreter, the leader of the world’s third biggest economy said he had been impressed with the courtesy he had received during his stay, and was in Belfast to give encouragement to Japanese companies based in NI.
Describing the region as a treasure trove of “challenge, openness and innovation,” the Prime Minister also let it slip about a major jobs announcement on Wednesday in Larne.
He revealed to an invited audience of business representatives and politicians at Titanic Belfast that Japanese owned firm Terumo was extending its operation in the Co Antrim town.
“I understand that those of you here tonight representing Japanese companies are making contributions on a daily basis,” Mr Abe continued.
“So as you open up the new future of Northern Ireland by utilising these high technologies, there’s also delightful news for me Terumo is now significantly expanding its business here in Northern Ireland.”
Mr Abe said that he was determined to make an effort to support such Japanese corporations’ overseas advancements.
Japanese firms employ over 2,000 people in Northern Ireland.
This visit by the Japanese leader is cementing relationships between Belfast and Tokyo with the First Minister and deputy First Minister accepting an invitation to visit his country.