Britain should be turning Japanese for a great Brexit, says TIM NEWARK

It all began watching Queen movie Bohemian Rhapsody on Japan Airlines and eating lovely Wiltshire-made Marshfield ice cream.

Then strolling around Tokyo’s most fashionable shopping districts and noting all the British brands, from Vivienne Westwood and Burberry to Northampton traditional shoemaker Church’s, and Dyson advertised on their underground system.

In exquisite Kyoto, you can have afternoon tea in the Sir Thomas Lipton Tearooms.

The Japanese value courtesy and manners and so approve of our historical elegance.

It is little wonder they are big fans of Jane Austen novels and all those restrained, refined folk.

It’s all good news because British annual exports to Japan hit almost £10 billion recently, making it our 7th largest market.

The really big news in Japan next week is that their Emperor Akihito is abdicating in favour of Crown Prince Naruhito and he was educated at Merton College Oxford.

Graduating in history his special topic of interest was England’s waterways during our Industrial Revolution.

While living in the UK, Naruhito climbed all three of our highest mountains and visited some 21 historic pubs.

We can’t have a bigger fan of Britain’s impact on the world than that!

Japan is the third largest economy in the world, sitting just ahead of us ranked fifth.

It has just struck a trade deal with the EU and French cheese and wine are already flooding into their country.

It is currently negotiating a trade deal with the US and so we really need to get our skates on to wrap up Brexit and start securing our own profitable trade connections.

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp, the nation’s biggest telecommunications company, is already considering setting up their international headquarters in London because of the City’s global financial reach and the proximity of leading university cities of Oxford and Cambridge.

They know what we do best. Why don’t our politicians have equal confidence in our own abilities to attract the biggest and best in the world?

In many ways, Japan and Britain are similar countries.

Both are island nations with a great talent for precision engineering and intellectual ingenuity that has made them very wealthy.

We both face similar challenges of an expanding ageing population.

The Japanese know they need to attract more foreign workers to look after their elderly residents but they are also fiercely protective of their culture and would not tolerate an open-door migration policy.

Just recently the Japanese have set up a test for Filipino immigrant workers in Manila in which applicants must prove their knowledge of Japanese terminology used at nursing homes.

This is the first of a series of foreign-based exams aimed at selecting just the right immigrant workers needed to fill gaps in the Japanese economy.

If they can do it, why can’t we?

It’s often argued that we need to attract foreign workers in order to do the jobs Brits won’t do, such as in the service sector.

But the Japanese take a pride in doing relatively humble jobs very well.

On their trains, smartly uniformed crew bow to the carriage before leaving it.

Shop assistants bow to the store floor before taking a break.

With wages rising because of less migrant workers coming to post-Brexit Britain, hopefully we can relearn how to take pride in our service jobs in restaurants, shops and public transport.

Japanese is a very cohesive society with little tension and a very low crime rate.

It was a pleasure to travel on the Tokyo underground system and find it clean, quiet and safe.

In their crowded island, everyone respects each other’s space.

It seems the only downside of Japanese society is that their dedication to work means they are often exhausted and nod off at any opportunity.

With the Olympic Games coming up in Japan next year, it has never been a better time to visit the fascinating country and see how it works so wonderfully.

There is a lot we can learn from the industrious Japanese and we should waste no time in fixing a trade deal with them that only enhances their passion for our culture and goods.

Brexit can be bright if only we have the same faith in ourselves as other countries do.  

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