Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has warned that tens of thousands of British jobs at Japanese companies could be at risk if the country pulls out of the European Union, a U.K. newspaper reported Sunday.
The Abe administration’s response to a consultation organized by Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office noted that Japanese companies favor Britain because it offers a gateway to the European Union, The Sunday Times report said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to renegotiate the country’s relationship with the EU and to then hold a referendum on remaining in the bloc by the end of 2017, providing he is still in office.
In its submission, Tokyo said it was “committed to making its relationship with the EU stronger than ever before,” The Sunday Times quoted it as saying.
“In this context, it (Japan) expects that the U.K. will maintain a strong voice and continue to play a major role in the EU,” the report continued.
“The U.K., as a champion of free trade, is a reliable partner for Japan. More than 1,300 Japanese companies have invested in the U.K., as part of the single market of the EU, and have created 130,000 jobs, more than anywhere else in Europe.
“This fact demonstrates that the advantage of the U.K. as a gateway to the European market has attracted Japanese investment.”
The newspaper further cited a statement by the Japanese Embassy in London saying that while some countries had not submitted replies to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Abe government thought it was important to do so since Japan is a major investor in the United Kingdom.
“If the U.K. leaves the single (European) market, countries investing in the U.K. and exporting to the EU would have to pay tariffs, and that is not good news,” the embassy said in the statement.
The United States, a close ally of Britain, also has previously warned London against isolating itself from the European Union. Last month, Abe visited Northern Ireland to attend a Group of Eight meeting hosted by Cameron.