US fashion retailer American Eagle Outfitters has announced plans to open its first retail stores in Japan.

Sumikin Bussan Corporation has been selected as its exclusive franchise partner in the country.

Plans include the company's American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie by American Eagle stores, with a first store slated for Tokyo’s Harajuku shopping district in the first half of 2012.

Since opening its first stores outside North America in Dubai and Kuwait earlier this year, American Eagle has also inked agreements for stores in China, Hong Kong, and Israel.

"Japan is one of the most important international markets for retail and home to millions of fashion-conscious young people," said Jim O’Donnell, chief executive officer of American Eagle Outfitters. "Sumikin Bussan Corporation is the ideal partner for this region, given their extensive experience, industry leadership, and commitment to creating lasting value for customers."

American Eagle will provide merchandising and marketing direction in the deal, while Sumikin will handle all operational functions.

"There is tremendous opportunity for sportswear brands in Japan, both domestic and international," said Gashun Amaya, president, Sumikin Bussan Corporation. "American Eagle Outfitters is increasingly popular among Japanese customers, who have experienced it in their travels to the US and Canada, as well as online. We are very pleased to offer this brand to customers across Japan with the official launch of the flagship store at one of the most auspicious shopping destinations in the world."

American Eagle now operates 1,000 stores worldwide and ships merchandise to 76 countries.