Japanese broadcaster NHK report MIM Brexit debate

Japan’s national public broadcasting organisation NHK visited Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre to provide coverage for Made in the Midlands’ recent Great Brexit debate.

NHK’s coverage was overseen by Senior Producer Daisuke Koyama, Broadcast Journalist Kana Fushimi and Chief Correspondent Akihiro Matsuki, who conducted interviews with a range of Midland manufacturers to gather their perspective on the implications of a Brexit.

If the UK votes in favour of a Brexit at the in-out referendum on June 23rd, the vast majority of Japanese-owned businesses within the UK may decide to relocate their businesses to take advantage of the benefits of an EU membership. Undoubtedly, the single market currently provides external companies with unrivalled benefits, without most of the trade barriers removed for goods.

According to Japan Today, Carlos Ghosn KBE, Chairman and Chief Executive of Nissan said: “Our preference as a business is, of course, that the UK stays within Europe—it makes the most sense for jobs, trade and costs. For us, a position of stability is more positive than a collection of unknowns”.

“We obviously want the Nissan UK plant and engineering centre to remain as competitive as possible when compared with other global entities, and each future investment opportunity will be taken on a case-by-case basis, just as it is now”, Ghosn said.

Nissan employs 8,000 people in the UK across its manufacturing, engineering and design facilities, as well as a further 32,000 indirectly through dealerships and its supply chain. If Japanese automotive businesses like Nissan, Honda and Toyota decide to relocate, this will inevitably cost their company millions of pounds to move. Additionally, Japanese companies would rather have access to a European talent pool as the UK continues to suffer from the skills-gap shortage present within the manufacturing sector.

However, industrial giants Hitachi told the Guardian in January that they will continue to invest in the UK, even if the country votes to leave the EU. Hitachi’s global rail headquarters are based in the UK and they opened a new rail factory in Newton Aycliffe last year. Hiroaki Nakanishi, Chairman of Hitachi told the Telegraph: “For us, having the UK in the EU is always more preferable. But we cannot say Brexit is the wrong way.”

NHK confirmed that they would not use the footage from the Great Brexit debate until the final weeks leading up to the EU referendum. The debate was Chaired by MIM President Christopher Greenough. First Orchard Director, Ilona Dalecka and Scott Harrison, Director of Swindell and Pearson represented the Bremain opinion. Whereas, Bill Good, CEO of Diverco Limited and Deryk Law, CEO of Clayton Holdings were in favour of a Brexit.

As local Midlands manufacturers networked, NHK gathered the thoughts of members during the morning and afternoon networking. Tom Mongan, General Manager of Subcon Laser tweeted: “Myself & @graham_yeomans being interviewed by Akihiro Matsuki & Daisuke Koyama @NHKWorldNews_EN. The debate goes on!” All of the panel members were interviewed separately by NHK and several members of the audience provided the Japanese broadcaster with a wealth of content.

Evidently, the Brexit debate within Britain is being closely monitored by the Japanese broadcasters due to the implications for the country’s manufacturing companies. Japanese companies do not want to be surrounded by Japan’s weak economy and ageing population. Also, remaining a part of the EU will secure Japanese access to the European single market and ensure their stability. A large portion of Japanese companies are not willing to thrust their businesses into dealing with the unknown effects of a Brexit.