Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has set off on an 8-day tour of Central and South America.
Kono left Narita Airport, outside Tokyo, on Sunday afternoon. He will visit Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Mexico before returning to Japan next Sunday.
Kono hopes to strengthen cooperation on maintaining free trade frameworks at a time of increasing protectionism.
Peru and Mexico are signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Colombia is showing interest in joining the free trade pact.
Japan aims to achieve the early launch of the TPP, and seek cooperation for the expansion of its membership.
Kono will become the first Japanese minister to visit Ecuador. He plans to offer support for disaster preparedness as Ecuador is prone to earthquakes like Japan.
In his talks with officials from the 4 countries, Kono will also seek support for Japan's stance on international issues, including those involving North Korea.