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Japan 'very concerned' over no-deal Brexit: foreign minister


AFP London
Japan's foreign minister said Thursday he has pleaded with Britain to avoid a no-deal Brexit, as the candidates vying to be the next UK prime minister warn the country could leave the EU without an agreement.
Taro Kono said he had made the appeals in past and present meetings with his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt and former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who are currently battling to replace outgoing premier Theresa May.
"We're very concerned with (a) no-deal Brexit," he told BBC News on the eve of Japan hosting a two-day G20 summit in Osaka.
"We've been asking (the) UK government (to) let the Japanese companies know what they can expect.
"Whenever we've had meetings, that was one of the major issues: 'please, no no-deal Brexit'."

Noting that more than 1,000 Japanese companies currently operate in Britain, Kono warned a disorderly departure from the European Union risked disrupting investment.
"Many companies are worried about (the) implications because they don't know what's going to happen," he said.
"Some companies (are) already ... moving their operations to other places in Europe.
"There's going to be less investment -- anything could happen." Kono said Japan's leading car-makers were particularly exposed to the potential fallout from a hard Brexit.
"If they have to go through actual custom inspection physically those operations may not be able to continue." However, Takahito Tokita, president of Fujitsu, said the Japanese tech giant had no immediate plans to scale back its British enterprises.
"Fujitsu (will) continue to invest into (the) UK market... because (it) is a very important market for us," he told the BBC.
He noted the company had already made "contingency plans" around Brexit.
Britain was due to leave the EU on March 29, but has twice delayed its departure after Theresa May failed to persuade MPs to back the divorce deal she struck with the bloc.
She resigned earlier this month, and will be replaced by either Johnson -- the frontrunner -- or Hunt when around 160,000 Conservative Party members choose their next leader in July.
Both candidates have said they want to renegotiate a withdrawal agreement with Brussels.
But Johnson has vowed Britain will leave the EU "do or die" on the latest deadline of October 31, while Hunt has said he would consider a further short delay if a new deal appeared close.
Kono said Japan wants to negotiate a post-Brexit free trade agreement with Britain, but it would require time.
"There's going to be some kind of gap between when (the) UK leaves the EU and when we can ratify a new trade deal," he said, noting the two countries would have to use World Trade Organization rules in the meantime.

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First Published: Jun 27 2019 | 4:05 PM IST

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