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Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, sits with Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe as they attend a Japan-UK Business Forum on August 31, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is in Tokyo this week, actively attempting to assuage fears that Japanese business leaders have on the possible impact of Brexit on their U.K. businesses.
But corporate owners don’t necessarily care about the bilateral terms between Japan and Great Britain. Instead, they really want a liberal global trading environment. And that’s well beyond May’s control.
Business leaders from Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, are carefully tracking global trade trends to decide if they want to remain invested in the U.K., said Heizo Takenaka, a former Japanese minister of state for economic and fiscal policy. A trend toward liberalism could boost Japanese companies’ confidence in overseas projects in the long term, he added.
Japan’s preference for free trade may work in May’s favor as the prime minister seeks to strike a U.K.-Japan trade deal some time in the future, after Britain officially leaves the European Union in 2019.
“A Japan-England free trade agreement is very important to stop the movement of populism. To stop the movement of anti-free trade,” Takenaka said.
However, the United Kingdom has also been perceived by some to reject the free trade model, following its vote to leave the EU last year. May, for her part, has reiterated her support for economic liberalism.
“If we look at free trade and globalization, I’m a promoter of free trade, I believe in free trade. I believe that it brings economic growth and prosperity. And globalization does,” May told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year.