THE Japanese government says it has paid for Tory MP Ross Thomson to visit Tokyo because he is an “opinion leader”.

The enthusiastic Brexiteer, who represents Aberdeen South at Westminster, has teamed up with two other members of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s right-wing European Research Group for the trip.

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A series of tweets showed Thomson, along with fellow Tory MPs Ranil Jayawardena and Chris Green, meeting a number of mid-level Japanese politicians, visiting historical sites and playing with robots.

Thomson arrived in Tokyo earlier this week, telling his social media followers that he was “looking forward to discussing the opportunities for our post-Brexit trading relationship, closer co-operation on security and the potential to strengthen links with Aberdeen on energy, innovation and technology”.

That left many of his followers scratching their heads and asking why him?

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The Japanese Embassy in London told us: “Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan [MOFA] has an invitation scheme to invite opinion leaders to Japan for the purpose of improving understanding of Japan’s policy.

“Several British MPs with various backgrounds and parties have participated in this invitation program in the past and currently, during the parliamentary recess, MOFA is hosting three MPs (Ranil Jayawardena, Chris Green and Ross Thomson) in Japan, as they have shown a great interest in Japan and willingness to visit Japan.

“Mr Ranil Jayawardena, MP is a member of UK-Japan Parliamentary Group, and the embassy appreciates his interests and engagement with the Japan-UK relationship.

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“The embassy hopes that the invitation program would enhance the Japan-UK relations.”

Yesterday, after visiting Kyoto, Thomson tweeted: “There is so much more we can do to promote tourism between our two counties. The UK and Japan have so much to offer each other.”