Tokyo warns London of risks if gateway to European market shuts

Quitting EU may see U.K. jobs cut at Japanese firms


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.

  • Patonback

    Absolute rubbish !. To think that Japanese cars made in Britain would suddenly not be purchased by those in Europe because we don’t belong to the “club” completely ignores how business deals operate worldwide. Another country allied to the United States trying to tell us how to run our affairs. Warnings can also be interpreted as threats. We have the whole world to trade with and dont require “warnings” from anyone.

    • JohnTar

      Don’t be so bloody stupid and Little England in your attitude to British jobs and prosperity. We need to be a part of Europe in every sense of the word: it’s where our major trading partners are, and if we are a link into Europe that North America (the USA and Canada) can use so be it! You would distance us from those advantages in the foregone hopes that we can resurrect the trading partnerships of old, and that perhaps the South American nations would fall into line. How shortsighted is that..? Our old partners have formed strong trade, defence and cultural links to countries physically closer to them – for instance Australia and New Zealand linked to Japan and China – and the South American countries will follow the lead of Brazil and Argentina, both anti-UK (vehemently in the case of Argentina). The Middle East is a hotbed of strife and potential warfare (Syria, Israel and Iran), so Suez and the canal zone is fraught with danger and potential closure should war blow up in that area, or are you suggesting we ship goods back and forth around the Cape (you obviously know little about sea routes if you do). That leaves the “emerging nations of the Pacific rim” so-called, all of them pretty well emerged now and forging ahead of the little, old UK day-by-day. What little benefit might occur in your dream world, financial or otherwise, would be eaten up by tariff and trade embargo costs. Wake up to the fact that the Empire has gone, and that the UK – potentially without Scotland and alone – has little to offer the world except banking, which would soon transfer away from these islands. What a trade off your short-sightedness offers us and our children..!

      • Patonback

        “don’t be so bloody stupid” is your opening reply to my post, so that tells me just how skilful you are at debating issues like this. I am normally polite when I reply to posts, but I may make an exception in your case. I care deeply about this Country I was born in and also have a great pride in being English. I do not want other nations lecturing us on what path we should take and indicating trade threats to this country if the people choose not to comply with their wishes. There are many compelling arguments on both sides, but all are entitled to an opinion. The world of business does not stop at Europe, and the ill advised warnings from both the U.S and Japan are not appreciated. As for your concerns about our childrens futures,the levels of immigration we have seen (as part of our contract with Europe) have not proved helpful to our own youngsters seeking work or an affordable place to live. Unlike you, I have supreme confidence in the ability of this country and its people to trade on the world stage and in doing so provide a bright future for all our children. If that means a complete renegotiation of European membership or leaving, then so be it. Again, unlike you, I will have confidence in our own people to make the right decision when the time comes.

    • Benny

      What the Japanese mean is that they costs of Japanese goods manufactured in the UK would become price uncompetitive in Europe due to an increase in trade tarrifs caused by the UK leaving the EU! Therefore the Japanese would have no option but to move there manufacturing plants to other EU countries! I.E Honda Swindon, Nissan Sunderland, Toyota etc etc would be effected! A big loss to the UK.

  • Thomas Denny

    I think the Japanese government need to understand that putting a gun to britians head about eu will raise a red flag and that they must understand that the british people will decide whether we belong to the eu and not japan

  • Strabilla

    Given the Japanese reluctance to state the truth plainly, I believe that Mr. Abe’s statement needs to be taken very seriously.
    Of course the British will take the decision, but Japanese investment is for the Japanese to decide on, and large businesses deciding on where to place enormous investments have huge incentives offered to them by numerous countries.
    As Mr Abe said, 130,000 British jobs have been created directly, and no doubt a great deal more indirectly Most of these jobs are in the engineering sector, which the UK has itself failed to stimulate at all.
    It would be a sad day fr the UK if the electorate decides to cut off its nose to spite its face.

  • Britain leaving the EU will be a disaster which is why Scotland will hopefully leave the UK next year before this happens. We can then stay in and work with our EU partners while England/rUK can go into isolation and contemplate it’s navel while trade collapses. Obviously your new UKIP/Tory Government will also create a world of pain for the poor and further divide your society but hey, you get what you vote for!

  • Julia197878

    I think that The Japanese know what they are talking about. This EFTA business is all well and good but we would still have to adhere to many of the EU rules but with absolutely no say over anything.

  • Frank Schirmer

    Looks like Mr Abe feels like Japan is back in a position to tell other countries what to do.
    I say get rid of all Japanese business in the EU. Europe doesn’t need Japan at all, and once Japan finally goes bankrupt, those jobs will be gone anyway.

    • Benny

      A lot of what manufacturing industry the UK has left relies on Japanese investment. If we want a balanced economy, I.E not just service based, we should try to find a way to continue to work with the Japanese.

  • David Gale

    Perhaps the Japanese forget that the UK has an annual trade deficit of more than £40billion with the EU. It is the EU that has the dependency and hence a requirement for a trade deal with the UK.

    • Patonback

      I agree David. It seems that Japan and the U.S are quite good at making trade threats and have little respect for other issues we all face here in the UK when it comes to Europe. Wonder what response we would get if we tried to influence their overseas trade and marketing policies?.

      • Frank Schirmer

        Something along the lines of “How dare you? This is JAPAN!!”