Jeremy Hunt reassured Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today that the government is determined to avoid crashing out of the European Union without a withdrawal deal.
On a visit to the Japanese leader’s residence in Tokyo, the foreign secretary said: “We recognise that Japan has many investments employing hundreds of thousands of people in the UK.
“We want strong cooperation to continue.”
Japan is one of the biggest foreign investors in Britain’s economy, with car makers such as Toyota and other manufacturers treating the UK as a gateway to the rest of the European market.
But Britain’s attempts to leave the EU have raised concerns that Japanese firms will move their operations abroad if frictionless trade ends with the rest of the bloc.
Hunt will also visit Toyota, which recently announced plans to build a new car model with Suzuki in Britain, in a rare piece of good news for the UK’s manufacturing industry.
His reassurances follow Abe’s comments that the “whole world” wants to see a ‘no deal’ Brexit avoided, made on a visit to London in January.
Around 1,000 companies in the UK are funded with Japanese money, employing 142,000 people, and in April last year the country’s ambassador warned May companies such as Nissan, Toyota and Honda could leave if Brexit hit profits.
Nissan and Honda have both since committed to pulling out of the UK, though Brexit was not the only reason given, with global economic concerns such as waning Chinese demand weighing on car manufacturers.