Abe seeks reassurances from May that Brexit will not affect Japanese companies in the region

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 11:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 11:16pm

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his British counterpart Theresa May met in England to discuss Britain’s exit from the European Union and security issues of importance to both countries.

After their one-on-one meeting, Abe and May had lunch before holding further talks in the presence of other officials at the British prime minister’s country residence, Chequers.

According to Japanese officials, Abe was to appeal to May to keep Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union transparent and predictable to minimise the effects on Japanese companies doing business in the region.

The leaders may also confirm the importance of maintaining unity in Europe.

Amid heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula, Abe will stress to May the severity of the present security environment in the Asia-Pacific region and seek close cooperation in addressing it, the officials said.

The Japanese and British ­leaders were also expected to discuss various other issues likely to be on the agenda at the Group of Seven advanced nations summit in Taormina, Italy, next month.

Abe last visited Britain in May last year. On that occasion he met May’s predecessor David Cameron before the referendum in which Britons chose to leave the European Union.

On Thursday, Abe met ­Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

In their talks, the two leaders agreed to send an experts’ group as early as next month to the disputed islands controlled by Moscow but claimed by Tokyo to realise joint economic activities on the isles as a step to concluding a post-war peace treaty.

The experts from the public and private sectors to be dispatched to the islands off Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido will draw up a priority list of possible economic activities to be done there, such as the cultivation of fish and sea urchins.

Japan and Russia still remain far apart in their stances on the sovereignty of the islands and would need to work out ways to conduct joint activities that do not raise judicial problems.

“The peace treaty is a historical endeavor that would benefit Japan and Russia,” Abe said at a joint news conference.

“I want to increase and strengthen the trust between the [Japanese and Russian] public” towards concluding a peace treaty.

Abe and Putin had agreed ­in December to start joint activities on the isles, saying doing so could be an important step towards a peace treaty.