National / Politics

Abe weighs visit to Britain in December for meeting on Brexit, trade and South China Sea

JIJI

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering visiting Britain in December, government sources have said.

During the stay, Abe is expected to hold a meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May for talks on measures to avoid the impact from Brexit on Japanese firms operating in the country, the sources said Friday.

The revised Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement is also likely to be on the agenda as Britain has indicated its willingness to join the pact among 11 countries including Japan, the sources said.

Abe and May are likely to confirm their intentions to strengthen Japan-U.K. security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and the South China Sea.

They will exchange opinions on concluding a bilateral visiting forces agreement, which will set rules on criminal jurisdiction and other legal matters when Self-Defense Forces and the British military operate in their respective nations, the sources said.

Japan and the United States have a Status of Forces Agreement that covers U.S. forces in Japan. Japan is working on reaching an accord by year-end on a visiting forces agreement with Australia assuming temporary stays by SDF and Australian troops in the other nation.

Abe is expected to make a final decision on his possible trip to Britain while closely examining domestic circumstances, according to the sources.

The ongoing extraordinary session of the Diet, which is currently scheduled to end Dec. 10, may be extended. In addition, work to compile the government’s fiscal 2019 budget is seen kicking into full gear toward late December.