TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British counterpart Theresa May will “work to quickly establish” a bilateral trade partnership with an eye to the U.K.’s coming divorce from the European Union, they said in a joint statement here Thursday.
The leaders issued the statement after talks at Akasaka Palace, the state guest house in Tokyo.
The statement said both parties would continue “to champion … the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement” while pushing for “a new economic partnership between Japan and the U.K.”
Abe told reporters at a joint press conference that he would cooperate closely with Britain to strengthen economic relations following its exit from the EU, or Brexit. He also called on May to ensure the impact on Japanese companies in the U.K. would be minimized during Brexit negotiations.
May said she would “listen to the voices of Japanese corporations” and work toward a “smooth and orderly” separation.
Regarding security cooperation, May and Abe also said they would “elevat[e] their global strategic partnership and cooperation … particularly in the Indo-Pacific region,” with an eye toward threats from North Korea. Japan welcomed “the U.K.’s strengthened security engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, including … the potential deployment of a U.K. aircraft carrier.”
The two also pledged stronger cooperation in areas including joint military exercises, defense equipment and technology, and measures against terrorism and cyberattacks. Before their meeting, Abe brought May to a special meeting of the National Security Council at his office, apparently to highlight their countries’ strengthening security relationship.
The prime ministers agreed on the need to turn up the heat on Pyongyang, and confirmed their intent to press China to play a bigger part in the matter. With an eye toward China’s advances in the East and South China seas, they also jointly recognized the importance of enforcing maritime law, aiming to check unilateral actions by Beijing.