David Blume went to Japan on a language exchange visit for 18 months and he is still there 20 years later.

As president of Jaguar Japan he gave his press conference address at the Tokyo Motor Show in faultless Japanese.

It's a far cry from his upbringing in Manchester and his job as a project manager with Rover which back in 1983 had an alliance with Honda. That's how the opportunity to go to Japan came about.

"I was offered a place under an executive training programme being run by the European Union which was running exchanges for young managers. It was too good an opportunity to miss," he said.

He got on so well and loved the country so much he has stayed despite the breakdown of the Rover-Honda alliance. He is now highly regarded as the boss of Jaguar's operations in Japan.

Blume added: "If you make the effort to learn the language and the culture here it is very much appreciated and you get taken very seriously."

Jaguar will sell 3,700 cars in Japan this year led by the X-Type making it the third largest market outside the United States and the UK.

Blume said: "Jaguar is seen as an aspirational marque, much more so than Mercedes-Benz or BMW. The German cars are excellent and certainly no one will question your choice but the Japanese people who buy Jaguar are more self confident - owners of small businesses, doctors and lawyers."

He is currently looking at whether to introduce the new Jaguar X-Type estate into the Japanese market when it become available. "Historically there has never been an estate market here but it is starting to blossom. It depends on what the customers want.

"Do Japanese customers expect Jaguar to sell an estate? Probably not. But have we built a great car? Yes we have. We will have to wait and see."