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Abe calls on UK to minimize Brexit impact on firms, world economy

Jeremy Hunt, left, British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a courtesy call at the latter's office in Tokyo, on April 15, 2019. (Kimimasa Mayama/Pool Photo via AP)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday asked Britain to minimize the negative impact of its departure from the European Union on Japanese companies and the broader global economy.

During a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in Tokyo, Abe said Japan welcomes the fact that a "no deal" Brexit was avoided after Britain and the European Union agreed last week to extend the deadline for the country's exit again to Oct. 31 from April 12.

"We respect the efforts made by Prime Minister (Theresa) May" to avert a no-deal Brexit, Abe told Hunt. "It's our hope that the negative impact of Britain's exit on Japanese companies and the world economy will be minimal."

May has struggled in recent weeks to win parliamentary support for the deal she negotiated with the other 27 EU members, raising fears of a no-deal exit disrupting business activities. Japanese manufacturers, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co., have production plants in Britain.

Hunt told Abe that Britain is "very determined" to avoid a no-deal Brexit, noting that Japan has helped "transform the British manufacturing industry for the better."

"We want that strong cooperation to continue," the British foreign secretary said.

During the meeting, Abe also sought British support when Tokyo hosts the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, western Japan in June. Tokyo hopes to lead discussions on innovation and free trade as drivers of economic growth among other global challenges.

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