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Japan Keidanren business federation warning to UK over Brexit



Japan sad fan
Japanese soccer fan wipes her tears as Japan loses their 2014
World Cup soccer match against Colombia, at a public viewing
event in Tokyo.


  • “Everyone is seriously concerned,” Hiroaki
    Nakanishi, the head of Japan’s biggest business lobby has
    warned on Brexit.
  • Nakanishi said that Japanese businesses, as well as
    other foreign firms, urgently need clarity over the shape of
  • He also said Japanese businesses are particularly
    frustrated by the lack of a united position

    om the government on Brexit. 
  • Japanese firms, including automakers Nissan, Toyota,
    and Honda, employ thousands of staff in the UK.
  • The intervention from Japanese business comes almost
    two years on from the country’s viral Brexit letter to the

Japanese businesses with a collective UK workforce of hundreds of
thousands of staff are once again sounding the alarm on their
fears of widespread economic damage post-Brexit, unless clarity
is achieved by Prime Minister Theresa May and her government as
soon as possible.

Two years on from the
famous viral letter to the British government
 from the
Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japanese businesses are once
again raising the alarm about the impending negatives of Brexit,
which would impact not only their businesses, but also the wider
UK economy.

“We just can’t do anything. Everyone is seriously
concerned,” Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of Keidanren, the
Japanese business federation, said
in an interview with the Financial Times published on

Nakanishi told the FT that Japanese businesses operating in
the EU are frustrated — like many UK businesses — by the lack of
any real clarity over what sort of Brexit the UK will actually
achieve when the Article 50 period runs out in March next

“Various scenarios get discussed, from no Brexit to plunging into
Brexit without any kind of deal at all. We’re now in a situation
where we have to consider what to do in all of them,” Nakanishi

Major Japanese firms, including automakers Nissan, Toyota,
and Honda, all have substantial footprints in the UK,
manufacturing thousands of cars here every year. Nissan, for
instance, employs over 7,000 people, most of whom are
concentrated in the firm’s plant in the north east city of

Nissan was subject to a great deal of attention in the months
after the Brexit vote
, after it initially threatened to leave
the UK altogether in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. After
aggressive lobbying from the government, the firm reversed
course. CEO Carlos Ghosn, however,
in June warned of a possible “slow decline” of Nissan’s UK
after Brexit.

Japanese businesses are particularly frustrated, Nakanishi
said, by the lack of a united position from the government on

“When you talk to the UK government, they say something a
bit different depending on who is speaking,” he said, reflecting
the differences between hardline Brexiteers such as Liam Fox, and
more moderate colleagues like the anti-Brexit chancellor, Philip

In his interview with the FT, Nakanishi also called on the
government to maintain membership of the customs union, in order
to keep the UK’s “current economic environment as much as

“Please keep the current economic environment as much as
possible, including the customs union,” he said.

“If you don’t then it will clearly hinder economic activity
in the UK.”

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