National / Politics

Boris Johnson assures Abe of smooth Brexit at G7, seeking to calm Japan firms' concerns

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe got assurances Monday from his British counterpart Boris Johnson that he will aim for a smooth Brexit.

In his first meeting since Johnson became prime minister in July, Abe called for an “orderly” departure from the European Union as Tokyo has asked London to minimize the negative impact of the exit on Japanese companies, according to a Japanese official.

Johnson, a strong Brexit supporter, is quoted by the official as responding to Abe that he will make efforts so the exit will go without a hitch.

The meeting was held on the fringes of a Group of Seven summit in the French resort town of Biarritz where Britain’s potentially disorderly “no deal” exit from the European Union, among other contentious issues such as trade and climate change, grabbed the spotlight.

Japan’s economic and security ties with Britain have enhanced in recent years. Britain is the biggest destination of Japanese investment among the EU members.

Abe said he will continue to support Britain’s interest in joining a revised Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact that took effect last year.

During the roughly 30-minute meeting, Johnson broached the topic of the Japanese resumption of commercial whaling and Abe explained Tokyo’s stance, the Japanese official said without elaborating.

Dissatisfied with a divisive International Whaling Commission, Japan has withdrawn from the organization it joined in 1951.

In July, Japan resumed commercial whaling in nearby waters and within its exclusive economic zone, but not in the Antarctic Ocean, where it had carried out “scientific whaling,” a practice criticized as a cover for commercial whaling.

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