Corporate Japan despairs at UK’s lack of clarity over Brexit

Head of powerful business lobby warns a no-deal exit would be ‘disastrous’.

Japanese companies are increasingly frustrated by the double talk from the British government over Brexit and are hamstrung on how to respond, according to the head of Japan’s most powerful business lobby.

“We just can’t do anything. Everyone is seriously concerned,” said Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of Keidanren, in an interview with the Financial Times. “Various scenarios get discussed, from no Brexit to plunging into Brexit without any kind of deal at all. We’re now in a situation where we have to consider what to do in all of them,” he said.

His comments highlight the sense of despair among Britain’s biggest foreign employers after waiting more than two years for clarity about what Brexit will mean.

Keidanren represents more than a thousand of Japan’s biggest companies including large investors in the UK such as Toyota, Honda and Nissan. Mr Nakanishi, who took over as chairman in May, also chairs Hitachi and is one of the country’s best-known industrialists.

Mr Nakanishi said a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous and urged Britain to stay in the customs union.