Belfast Telegraph

Japan's premier will 'continue to trust British economy after Brexit'

Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe at a press conference with Theresa May
Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe at a press conference with Theresa May

Japan's prime minister has said he will "continue to trust" the UK's economy after Brexit has taken place, as he states that maintaining an open Europe is a matter of concern to the world.

Shinzo Abe also said Kim Jong Un's continued launches were a "clear challenge against the international community", hours after new ballistic missile tests were carried out by North Korea.

Mr Abe made the statements at central London's Dorchester Hotel following a meeting with Theresa May at Chequers on Friday.

After talks at her country retreat, Mrs May hailed Japan as "our closest Asian security partner" and an important economic ally, as she noted that 1,000 Japanese companies including Honda, Hitachi and Mitsubishi employ 14,000 people in Britain.

Pressed on whether he was worried about the Government's stance of a hard Brexit, he said through a translator: "With regard to the Brexit negotiations, maintaining an open Europe is a matter of concern to the world.

"Japan, along with the UK and the EU, will continue to play the role of the standard bearers of free trade," he said.

Mr Abe said it is his expectation that stakeholders and investors from outside the EU will be able to have "clear future prospects" following Brexit.

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With regards to strengthening Japan and UK trade relations following the split, he added: "I continue to trust the UK's economy after its separation from the EU.

"As I share the view with Prime Minister May yesterday, in order to maintain and strengthen Japan's economic relations with the UK after its separation from the EU, we would like to continue with the expectation of opinions with the UK concerning how Japan and UK economic relations should be."

On Saturday, Pyongyang fired a test missile, which is understood to have failed, despite global calls and pressure to curb their nuclear and ballistic missiles development programme.

After their meeting on Friday, Mrs May said Japan and the UK "stand steadfast in our condemnation of such destabilising activity" and said the nuclear and missile tests are a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

She said they will continue with international partners to maintain pressure on North Korea and work towards a peaceful solution to rising tensions in the region and across the world.

At the press conference on Saturday, Mr Abe said that despite strong warnings from the international community, North Korea carried out its ballistic missile launch - of which there have been more than 20 over the last year.

"It is a grave threat to our country, this is absolutely not acceptable. We strongly condemn such acts," he said.

Mr Abe said in light of possible further provocation, they will maintain their relationship with their ally, the United States, to maintain a high status of alert as they look to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens and will be resolute in their response.

"Now is the time for nations who share basic values to unite. The international community must display solidarity," he added, stressing that he and Mrs May share this "strong resolve".

Following what he hopes will be a "smooth and successful Brexit", Mr Abe said: "It is my strong hope that a global United Kingdom will play a proactive role in addressing the various challenges which the international community is faced with."

He called on North Korea to comply with UN Security Council resolutions, cease dangerous provocative acts and to exercise self restraint.

At the press conference Mr Abe also extended his "heartfelt condolences" to the victims of the London terror atrocity in Westminster bridge last month, carried out by Khalid Masood.

He said he condemns such "atrocious and despicable" acts.

"Japan will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the UK and the international community to continue our battle against terrorism," he said.