Japan ‘very concerned’ over prospect of ‘no-deal’ Brexit, says foreign minister
Japan’s foreign minister said Thursday he has pleaded with Britain to avoid a no-deal Brexit, as the candidates vying to be the next UK prime minister warn they could leave the EU without an agreement.
Taro Kono said he had made the appeals in past and present meetings with his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who are currently battling to replace outgoing premier Theresa May.
“We’re very concerned with a no-deal Brexit,” he told BBC News. “We’ve been asking the UK government to let the Japanese companies know what they can expect,” he said.
“Whenever we’ve had meetings, that was one of the major issues: ‘please, no no-deal Brexit.’”
Noting that more than 1,000 Japanese companies currently operate in Britain, Kono warned a disorderly departure from the EU risked disrupting investment.
“Many companies are worried about the implications because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.
“Some companies are already ... moving their operations to other places in Europe.
“There’s going to be less investment – anything could happen.”
Kono said Japan’s leading car-makers were particularly exposed to the potential fallout from a hard Brexit.
“If they have to go through actual custom inspection physically those operations may not be able to continue.”
However, Takahito Tokita, president of Fujitsu, said the Japanese tech giant had no immediate plans to scale back its UK enterprises.
“Fujitsu will continue to invest into the UK market... because it is a very important market for us,” he told the BBC. He noted the company had already made “contingency plans” around Brexit.
Britain was due to leave the EU on March 29, but has twice delayed its departure after Theresa May failed to persuade MPS to back the divorce deal she struck with the bloc.
She resigned earlier this month, and will be replaced by either Johnson – the frontrunner – or Hunt when around 160,000 Conservative Party members choose their next leader in July.