×

Britain's May to lead business delegation to Japan

LONDON, Aug 15 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May will visit Japan this month for talks with her Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe to discuss Brexit, trade and defence, her office said on Tuesday.

May will lead a business delegation drawn from a range of different sectors on the trip, which comes as her government looks to strengthen its relationship with key international investors ahead of Britain's exit from the European Union.

"The delegation will showcase the strength of British business, the shared confidence in the UK-Japan economic relationship as we leave the EU, and the potential for future growth," a spokesman from May's office said.

The three-day trip begins on Aug. 30.

Japanese companies including carmaker Nissan and conglomerate Hitachi have invested more than 40 billion pounds ($52 billion) in Britain, and Japanese companies employ a total of 140,000 people in the country.

May's office did not give details of which businesses would be travelling to Japan. May will also meet Emperor Akihito, the spokesman said.

Since voting to leave the EU last June Britain has trumpeted decisions by Japanese carmakers Nissan and Toyota to continue production in the country as a sign that Brexit will not scare off international investors.

But both those investments came after the government wrote letters to ease the firms' concerns, drawing criticism that May was making secret deals and giving firms privileged information on Brexit. Britain said the letters were commercially sensitive.

May and Abe, leaders of the world's fifth and third largest economies, met last month on the sidelines of an international summit in Germany, and in April she hosted him at her English country residence.

After Abe's April visit, he expressed concerns about possible overnight changes in regulations when Britain withdraws from the EU in March 2019 - the latest in a series of unusually strong declarations about the risks of Brexit from Tokyo. (Reporting by William James; Editing by Richard Balmforth)