Japan’s foreign minister has told the BBC that he has been telling the two prospective Conservative leaders to avoid a no-deal Brexit.
Taro Kono told the Today programme that he knew Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt “very well” and had told them in meetings, “please no no-deal Brexit”.
He said trade talks could not take place until the UK leaves the EU.
Japanese firms were “very concerned” about the implications of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, he said.
Speaking to the BBC ahead of the up-coming G20 meeting in Osaka, he said he had urged both Mr Hunt – the current foreign secretary – and his predecessor, Mr Johnson, to give clarity on Brexit.
“Whenever we had a meeting, that was one of the major issues – please… no no-deal Brexit,” he said.
“There are over 1,000 Japanese companies operating in the United Kingdom so we are very concerned with this no-deal Brexit. That would have [a] very negative impact on their operations.
“So whoever wins, whoever becomes a new leader for the UK, [I hope] they would consider those foreign companies operating in the United Kingdom and take good care of it”.
During the current leadership campaign, Mr Johnson has said he will get the UK out of the EU on 31 October, but he thinks the chances of a no-deal Brexit happening are a “million to one”.
Mr Hunt has said he would leave the EU with no deal, but it is not his preferred option.
Mr Kono said Japan did not want to disrupt economic relations with the UK.