The ambassador of Japan to the United Kingdom has hailed the “world leading” industries of the Highlands while on an official visit to the north.
Koji Tsuuoka lead a high-powered delegation to several key sites in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.
The ambassador took up his role in June and the two day visit is his first official UK trip outside of London.
Mr Tsuuoka was joined on the official visit by Japan’s consul general in Edinburgh Daisuke Matsunaga and Yosuki Ishigami of the economic section of the Japanese embassy.
The delegation visited a range of industries in the north as part of the trip including the Global Energy Park at Nigg, and heavy engineering at Thurso’s JGC Engineering, both having key roles in developing renewable energy production the Pentland Firth.
He said the renewables sector was an area where Japan is keen to “co-operate” with Scottish industry.
He also visited the Dounreay nuclear plant which is currently in the process of being decommissioned, also an area of interest in Japan.
Mr Tsuuoka said: “That is technology that we will all need and the UK is leading the way and Scotland is the spearheading this technology that is in demand globally, including in Japan.
“I’m quite happy and satisfied that I’ve been in Scotland for the two days and I’ve been exposed to those.”
Mr Tsuruoka concluded his visit with a stop at the Clynelish Distillery in Brora to sample some of their famous produce as well as food prepared by the North Highland College in nearby Dornoch.
Whisky is a significant export to Japan and Mr Tsuruoka and his companions described their sampling as “extremely enjoyable”.
He said: “Whisky is very popular in Japan, it is a high quality, high-end product in particular and these whiskies are superb quality.
“It really represents the quality of Scotland.
“I think you have a lot of potential doing more business, bringing more tourists, having a lot more markets and Japan of course is one.”
The visit follows a meeting between the ambassador and Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP Paul Monagahan who is vice-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Japan.
Mr Monaghan said: “Above all, I think the message is that we value our friendships and our existing partnerships with the people of Japan.
“We want to grow them and we want both countries to prosper.”
He added: “Above all what we want to say to the rest of the world and in particular the people of Japan is that Scotland and this area in particular is open for business.”