Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will discuss trade and tourism opportunities with her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Japan this week, while also taking in an All Blacks game at the Rugby World Cup.

Ardern, who left for Japan last night on the first leg of a trip that includes the leaders' week at the UN in New York next week, has met Abe twice on the sidelines of international meetings.

But this will be the first trip to Japan by a New Zealand Prime Minister since the signing of the CPTPP, the 11-nation trading agreement formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In a pre-trip interview with the Herald, Ardern said the lowering of tariffs through the CPTPP had already boosted New Zealand exports to Japan by tens of millions of dollars.


"The biggest benefit for our exporters [through the CPTPP] was access to the Japanese market, particularly relative to Australia. Some of the access that they had, for instance for beef, was much better than what we had."

Japan is the world's third-largest economy and New Zealand's fourth-largest trading partner. Two-way trade is worth $8.8 billion a year.

The CPTPP has already helped grow honey exports to Japan by 60 per cent, kiwifruit by 31 per cent, beef by 30 per cent, and wine by 12 per cent.

"There has been massive benefits for us. I want to leverage off that a bit more, see what other benefits we can derive in that market," Ardern said.

Just under 100,000 Japanese visitors visited New Zealand last year, injecting $266 million in tourism revenue - New Zealand's third-biggest market by visitor spend.

"They're our sixth-biggest tourism market. There's probably room to increase that."

She said Tourism New Zealand had been focusing on leveraging the similar values between the countries, such as the importance of being good hosts.

"Their campaign uses the number 39 ('san kyu') a lot. To the Japanese market, they'll see 39 as a 'thank you' from New Zealand for hosting the All Blacks and for hosting the Rugby World Cup.


"It's a campaign about actually showing the connection between our people, rather than just our place. Tourism is a big opportunity for us off the back of the Rugby World Cup."

The Tourism NZ campaign video features All Blacks Kieran Read, Beauden Barrett, Sam Cane and Anton Lienert-Brown, as well as Ardern and Kiwis from around the country.

All Blacks Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read, Anton Lienert-Brown and Sam Cane in the ''NZ Says 39'' campaign. Photo / Supplied
All Blacks Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read, Anton Lienert-Brown and Sam Cane in the ''NZ Says 39'' campaign. Photo / Supplied

It draws on the similarities between the Japanese concept of omotenashi and the Māori concept of manaakitanga to raise awareness of New Zealand as a destination.

Ardern will also discuss regional security issues, including North Korea, with Abe.

After watching Saturday's Rugby World Cup game between the All Blacks and South Africa, Ardern will fly to New York for the leaders' week at the United Nations.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has asked Ardern to give the keynote address for Monday's Climate Action Summit.

"This is a key opportunity to emphasise that a long-term global challenge like climate change requires collective action," Ardern said.

She will also hold bilateral meetings, including her first with US President Donald Trump, and will attend the Bloomberg Global Business Forum.