Image: kantei.go.jp – Ｇ７シャルルボワ・サミット及び各国との首脳会談-１日目-
On Thursday the 10th the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, visited Downing Street, for talks with Theresa May in the run-up to the ‘meaningful vote’ on the PM’s Brexit deal.
Speaking at a joint press conference, Abe joined the brigade of international leaders concerned about a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. The Japanese Premier warned “the world is watching” and pledged his country’s “total support [for] the withdrawal agreement worked out between the EU and Prime Minister May, which provides for a transition to ensure legal stability for businesses that have invested in this country”.
This comes after Honda, a Japanese company with bases in the UK, revealed it would temporarily shut down its Swindon factory in the event of no-deal. The car company said this would enable it to adjust to short-term logistical issues caused by delays at the border.
May struck a more positive note at the press conference, contending that Brexit presents a fresh opportunity for Japan and the UK to secure closer ties.
In a similar vein, the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, expressed optimism at the UK’s ability to strengthen its relations with Japan post-Brexit. He believes the two countries are kindred spirits who perform similar roles in the world order.
‘Some countries are endowed with immense natural resources; others are located in the midst of great continents. Britain and Japan have neither of these advantages. We are both islands off the Eurasian landmass with modest natural resources and no option except to prosper through enterprise, innovation, and a global outlook.’
It remains to be seen whether May’s Brexit deal will pass through the House of Commons. If it is rejected, the UK will be plunged into a ‘no-deal scenario’ and will pivot to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. As Honda warned, such a situation would cause problems for the 1000 Japanese businesses based in the UK, particularly if goods are delayed at the border.