Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told Japan’s prime minister that the UK is determined to avoid exiting the European Union without a deal.
During a visit to Tokyo, Mr Hunt told Shinzo Abe: “We recognise that Japan has many investments employing hundreds of thousands of people in the UK.
“We want strong cooperation to continue.”
According to Japanese broadcast NHK, Mr Abe had said he hoped the UK would not leave the EU without an agreement.
He also said he hoped the impact of Brexit on Japanese firms and the global economy would be minimal.
Mr Hunt’s visit comes just over a month after Japan’s ambassador to the UK warned that Japanese companies could continue to move out of the UK if there was not a good post-Brexit deal.
Speaking to Sky News after Nissan and Honda both announced production cuts at their UK-based plants, Koji Tsuruoka said Japanese companies had been cutting back on investment in the UK amid the uncertainty.
But he also said that a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and Japan would not take long to arrange.
Nissan and Honda denied their cutbacks were due to Brexit, with some commentators saying that Japan now benefits from lower tariffs on exports to the EU through the EU-Japan trade deal.
But Mr Tsuruoka said many of Japan’s 1,000 or so UK-based companies were considering how they would adjust to life in the UK after Brexit.
Japan is one of the UK’s most important foreign investors, with car production playing a major role in this.
Mr Hunt will also visit Toyota during his visit to Japan.
The Japanese carmaker announced in March that it plans to make hybrid electric vehicles on behalf of Suzuki at its Burnaston plant in Derbyshire, with engines from its Deeside site in North Wales.
It will not lead to any more jobs or investments but will increase the utilisation rate at Toyota’s car factory, providing reassurance at a time when worries including Brexit hang over the sector.