Jeremy Hunt to address the Japanese – in Japanese

Jeremy Hunt is to become the first British minister to deliver a speech in Japanese as he makes his first official visit to Japan since becoming Foreign Secretary.

Mr Hunt, who spent over a year in the country in his 20s learning the language, will put his skills to the test when he addresses representatives of UK-Japan exchange programmes in Tokyo.

According to an English translation of his remarks, he will promise to promote a “new era of friendship” between the two countries.

“I came to this country for the first time in 1990 to learn Japanese.

“I was introduced to Japan and wonderfully looked after by Japanese families all over the country, and I always try to meet them when I come back,” he will say.

“Today, I am here to take forward the new era of friendship between Britain and Japan.

“Our friendship stretches back to the Anglo-Japanese alliance of 1902 and I am sure it will strengthen in the years ahead, not least because for the first time there is a British Foreign Secretary who can speak a little Japanese.”

Officials will hope he avoids any repeat of his gaffe on a visit to China earlier this year when he sought to curry favour with his hosts by telling them his wife was Chinese, only to refer to her as Japanese by mistake.

Mr Hunt is due to hold talks with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and foreign minister Taro Kono, to discuss a range of issues including the future UK-Japan economic partnership and security on the Korean Peninsula.