Japan is considered one of the largest investors in the world. According to the former chief executive of the former government department UK Trade and Investment, the forerunner to the Department for International Trade, it is “bewildered” by Brexit.
Sir Andrew Cahn led the body for five years. Until recently, he is a non-executive director of Nomura, a Japanese bank. In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he said that the Japanese were “bewildered” by Brexit.
This morning, he stated: “The Japanese are really very disappointed about Brexit, probably of all the countries in the world, they are the ones which have reacted worst to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.”
Last January, the prime minister of Japan said that the “whole world” wanted the United Kingdom to avoid a no-deal Brexit, which continues to be the default position if Britain exits the bloc without having a ratified deal in place. Abe also promised “total support” for the withdrawal agreement that is agreed by Theresa May, the British prime minister, with the rest of the European Union last November.
However, PM May has attempted to pass the deal through parliament for three times already, and it was massively rejected by politicians within her own party and opposition MPs each time.
Originally, the United Kingdom was meant to leave the EU on the 29th of March this year, however, the constant rejections to the deal of PM May has led to back and forths with the European Union for an extension to Article 50, in an attempt to avoid a default no-deal Brexit. Currently, the extension is until the 31st of October this year.
Japan is the third largest economy in the world and is one of the UK’s biggest, and most vocal, investors in the United Kingdom. Britain imports approximately $13.7bn (£10.6bn) in goods per year from Japan. Japanese firms also employ 150,000 people in the United Kingdom, and trade between the two nations had a total of £28bn in the past year, confirmed the government.
Back in 2016, during the Brexit referendum, the ministry of foreign affairs of Japan released a 15-page document detailing how the economy of the United Kingdom would be severely damaged if it left the single market of the European Union — something that would happen in case of a no-deal Brexit. It warned that it would have a natural knock-on effect on investors with close trade ties with Britain.
This was made even more clear when it pointed out in the note that the success of the United Kingdom in attracting Japanese investment was derived from its membership within the bloc.
On the BBC programme, Sir Andrew Cahn added that Jeremy Hunt, the UK foreign secretary, had a huge task on his hands, as Japanese companies use Britain as a gateway to the European Union. This would be “significantly closed” if the United Kingdom left on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.