Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left Wednesday for the Netherlands and Britain for talks with the countries' leaders over a free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union as well as Britain's departure from the regional bloc.

"As Britain's exit from the European Union has drawn global attention, I will convey Japan's position to Prime Minister (Theresa) May and talk about the issue," Abe told reporters before his departure from Tokyo's Haneda airport.

Abe is expected to request May to ensure that Britain's departure from the bloc will not have a negative impact on Japanese companies operating in the country.

The Japanese prime minister also said he wants to confirm cooperation with his counterparts in successfully hosting the Group of 20 summit in Osaka in June.

During their talks in Rotterdam later Wednesday, Abe and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte are expected to agree to boost economic ties with the Japan-EU trade pact set to take effect next month.

Abe and Rutte are also likely to confirm cooperation on global security issues, including how to deal with North Korea.

During his meeting with May on Thursday in London, Britain's planned departure from the European Union will be high on the agenda with the country's parliament to vote on May's Brexit deal in mid-January.

Abe and May are also expected to agree to work together to promote free trade because Britain has expressed a willingness to join the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact that entered into force late last year.

Abe is scheduled to return home on Friday. He had initially planned to visit the two European nations late last year but postponed the plan due to a tight Diet schedule at home.

The premier is also expected to visit Europe again later in the month. He plans to visit Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin and then attend the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Japanese government sources said.