- A former British ambassador says the Japanese are “far too polite” to tell Theresa May they think Brexit is crazy. But the Japanese have publicly published a brutal list of economic demands for the Brexit talks. The country has also threatened to relocate its investments if May doesn’t get what they want in the Article 50 negotiations.
Former British ambassador to Japan David Warren told Bloomberg that he thought the Japanese were “far too polite” to tell Prime Minister Theresa May they think Brexit is crazy. May went on a trip to the Asian nation to discuss trade with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Warren told Bloomberg that the Japanese government has grave doubts about Brexit: “The Japanese simply don’t understand why we’re doing this. They’re far too polite to say so publicly.”
The thing is, Warren is wrong.
Anyone who has read the note from the Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, published last year after the EU referendum, knows that the Japanese have been far from timid in communicating that they think Brexit is crazy because it threatens their investments in the UK (and the jobs those investments create).
Japan threatens to “relocate their operations from the UK to existing establishments in the EU”
The memo describes how Japanese investments in Europe have created 440,000 jobs, and half that investment went into the UK at places like the Nissan car plant in Sunderland.
“We strongly request that the UK will consider this fact seriously and respond in a responsible manner to minimise any harmful effects on these businesses,” the note threatens, or Japanese companies will “relocate their operations from the UK to existing establishments in the EU.”
The note isn’t some internal document leaked by a dissident. It was published in full on a Japanese government web site, in English, just to underline the point.
Major chunks of the 15-page memo are in the format of bullet-pointed demands from the Japanese, who – from their point of view – see Brexit as a sabotage of the investment they made in the UK with the understanding that the UK was a tariff-free gateway to the EU. Here is a taste:
- Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Shortly after the Brexit vote, May made some sort of unspecified promise to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn that the car company’s investment in Sunderland won’t be disrupted by Brexit. Expect the Japanese to pull that investment if May fails to keep her promise.