ATLANTA — Wendy’s/Arby’s Group, Inc. is returning to Japan a little more than a year and a half after ending a 29-year presence in the country that resulted in the closing of 71 Wendy’s restaurants. The company will return after signing a joint venture with Higa Industries Co., Ltd., a food importer and distributor based in Tokyo.

The first Wendy’s restaurant is expected to open in Tokyo later this year with plans to expand the brand throughout Japan in the coming years.

“We are pleased to join with Ernie Higa and Higa Industries to build the Wendy’s brand in Japan,” said Roland Smith, president and chief executive officer of Wendy’s/Arby’s Group. “Ernie is well respected in the Japanese restaurant industry — having steadily grown his business over the years while earning a reputation for menu innovation and outstanding customer service. Japan is the second largest quick-service restaurant market in the world and represents a significant growth opportunity for the Wendy’s brand. We’re also honored by the tremendous outpouring of support we’ve received over the past year from our customers in Japan urging us to return.”