The Japanese Prime Minister has given his “total support” to Theresa May’s Brexit deal, warning that “the whole world” was opposed to a no-deal exit from the EU.
On a visit to the UK, Shinzo Abe gave Mrs May a much-needed boost ahead of next week’s crucial vote on the deal, which the government is expected to lose heavily.
“Japan and the UK have been building a very strong partnership, not only in the political arena but also the economic arena,” said Mr Abe.
“For Japan, the UK is the gateway to the European market - Japanese businesses have created 1,000 bases in the UK offering more than 150,000 jobs.
“It is the strong will of Japan to further develop this strong partnership with the UK, to invest more into your country and to enjoy further economic growth with the UK.
“That is why we truly hope that a no-deal Brexit will be avoided, and in fact that is the whole wish of the whole world.
“Japan is in total support of the draft Withdrawal Agreement worked out between the EU and Prime Minister May which provides for transition to ensure legal stability for businesses that have invested into this country.”
The British Prime Minister said Mr Abe’s visit came “at a crucial time”.
“As the UK prepares to leave the EU and raise our horizons towards the rest of the world, our relationship with countries such as Japan will be increasingly important, and your Presidency of this year’s G20 allows us to work together towards our shared goals on the global stage,” Mrs May said.
Japan is the UK’s second-largest source of non-EU foreign direct investment and Britain’s largest export market outside the EU, US and China.
The far-eastern giant has more to fear than most from a disorderly UK withdrawal, with around 1,000 Japanese companies operating in the country, and many using it as a gateway to European markets.
Major manufacturers like Nissan, Toyota and Honda have warned a no-deal Brexit could cost their UK operations millions in additional tariffs and disrupt the “just-in-time” supply chains on which they rely, sparking concerns they might reconsider their presence in the country.
After talks with Mrs May at the G20 summit in Argentina last month, Mr Abe urged her to avoid no-deal and ensure “transparency, predictability [and] legal stability in the Brexit process”.