Brexit "ridiculous" says Hitachi boss Hiroaki Nakanishi - but admits it's not a deal-breaker

Catherine Neilan
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Hitachi recently opened a new £82m train-making plant in Newton Aycliffe (Source: Getty)

The idea of the UK leaving the European Union is "ridiculous", the boss of Japanese conglomerate Hitachi has said, urging the Prime Minister not to break with the trading bloc.

Hiroaki Nakanishi, the chairman and chief executive of Hitachi, has discussed the thorny issue of Brexit with David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne, as well as others, on several occasions, he told The Times.

“I used to say ‘Why are you making such a ridiculous decision?’,” he said.

Although Nakanishi accepted the issue - which is expected to go to a public vote before the end of 2017 - was “not a simple issue”, he said it was essential that Britain remain in the EU. “From the viewpoint of business, the UK is to keep a member of the EU,” he said.

Hitachi is a major investor in the UK, having recently opened a new £82m train-making plant in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, which will employ 730 people. Hitachi is also planning a multibillion-pound investment in a new nuclear power plant at Wylfa on Anglesey in a joint venture with GE.

However The Times reports that Brexit would not be a deal-breaker for Hitachi's continued investment in the UK, as long as the country maintained strong and open trading relations with Europe and elsewhere.
“For us, the most important thing is free trade relationships between the UK and other countries,” he said.

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