Japan asks Britain to minimise ‘negative’ Brexit impact

17 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

TOKYO: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday asked Britain to minimise the negative impact of its departure from the European Union on Japanese firms and the global economy.

His remarks came during a meeting with visiting British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and after analysts earlier this year warned that Brexit has in many cases accelerated the decisions of Japanese firms to leave Britain, reports AFP.

"Japan welcomes the fact that a no-deal Brexit has been avoided for the time being, and I have a great respect for the effort made by Prime Minister (Theresa) May," Abe said.

May was forced to ask fellow EU leaders earlier this month to postpone Brexit for a second time, from April 12 to October 31.

She has been unable to persuade MPs to back the withdrawal terms she has struck with Brussels, but is also unwilling to take Britain out of the EU with no deal at all.

"I would like to express my hope that any negative impact of the UK's withdrawal from the EU will be minimised on Japanese corporations and on the world economy," Abe said.

Around 1,000 Japanese companies operate in Britain, supporting about 140,000 jobs.

But automakers Honda and Nissan have said they are axing production at plants in Britain, while electronics giants Sony and Panasonic are scaling back operations and major Japanese banks are pulling out.

While there are specific reasons behind each individual business decision, analysts said the spectre of Brexit was haunting Japanese firms across the board.

"On the matter of Brexit, as you know we are very determined to avoid a no-deal outcome because we recognise that Japan has many investments, employing hundreds of thousands of people in the UK," Hunt said.

"And we know that Japan has helped to transform the British manufacturing industry for the better, and we want that strong cooperation to continue."

The British government will resume talks with the main opposition Labour party this week on how to resolve the deadlock over Brexit, a senior minister, David Lidington, said on Sunday.