Ambassador July 2016

A special message

After the UK's EU referendum

You will, of course, be aware of the outcome of the referendum on the UK’s European Union (EU) membership. The British people have voted to leave the EU and Prime Minister Theresa May has been clear that their will must be respected and delivered. In the light of the extensive interest in Japan, readers of BCCJ ACUMEN can find more information on the implications of the result in this message.

It is important to understand that there will be no immediate changes. The formal process of leaving the EU will begin when the UK triggers Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. It is now for May and the new government to determine when to begin that process. The period between invocation of Article 50 and our eventual exit from the EU is two years unless the other member states agree to extend it.

Until that point, the UK remains a member of the EU, with the same rights and obligations as any other member state. This means the UK will continue to engage on all existing EU business, and the prime minister has committed that we will continue to support a swift conclusion to the EU–Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

As our prime ministers agreed when they spoke on 30 June, the relationship between the UK and Japan has gone from strength to strength in recent years and will continue to do so. We share values and will continue to work together in pursuit of global peace and prosperity. Japan’s G7 leadership demonstrated our common commitment to democracy and the rule of law. And our cooperation on security issues makes us both safer.

Our prosperity is greater when we work together; we particularly recognise and support the enormous role that Japanese investors play in the UK economy.

At the highest level, we are reassuring Shinzo Abe and contacts across Japanese government that the UK greatly values the investment of Japanese businesses into the UK, and we will do everything we can to promote and safeguard that investment in the wake of the referendum. It will be important for Japanese firms to make their voices heard in the negotiations, once they get under way.

That is why, together with members of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, we are actively engaging with Japanese businesses to understand their specific concerns, and to understand what opportunities the forthcoming changes might present for British businesses working in, and with, Japan.

Some things will not change post-referendum. Britain will always be capable of thriving and prospering on the world stage. We are the 5th biggest economy in the world and were the 2nd fastest growing economy in 2015, after the US.

We are a member of the United Nations Security Council, NATO, the G7 and the G20. Our voice will always be prominent, and the UK will continue to be an influential and outward looking power on the world stage, working with partners—including Japan—for security and prosperity.