Published on 10 Apr 2012

David Cameron targets Japanese businesses

I’m in Tokyo with the PM and a business delegation. David Cameron says he’s here to help to re-balance the UK economy, to fill the gap left by the shrunken financial sector with more exports. Mr Cameron said he was unashamed and “up front” about packing a plane with businessmen including several big defence contractors (BAE systems, AgustaWestland, Thales and MBDA amongst them) saying it’s part of what being a PM is about.

The Japanese have only just relaxed their ban on military technology deals with anyone but the Americans. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills thinks there are serious business opportunities for the UK. They could end up a lot more significant than the Nissan inward investment trumpeted overnight.

As could nuclear industry deals – there’s quite a nuclear presence on the trip too and though these businessmen are emphasising the potential for partnerships in growth, a senior nuclear industry source made it clear that there were possible clean-up contracts to be sought if Japan decides to decommission its 54 nuclear power stations, nearly all of which are currently “off-line.”

Before coming on the trip, the PM has been reflecting on what his big message for the voters is after a punishing two weeks which saw his personal poll ratings plummet. He’s emphasising that his is a long term approach taking decisions in the national interest. Asked about whether he acknowledged he’d taken a hit in popularity after the abolition of the 50p rate the PM said he was more interested in competitiveness not a popularity contest.

You get the impression over the past couple of weeks that the PM blames the Lib Dems for a significant part of his woes – leaking Budget details so the focus fell on the “granny tax” on the day as the only big “new” measure. And on the plane you detected a hefty swipe at Nick Clegg over what No. 10 seems to see as a pretty blatant, grandstanding, grassroots-pleasing u-turn on security measures.

The PM said the Deputy PM (along with Chris Huhne and Ken Clarke, amongst others) had much earlier signed up to measures proposing additional surveillance and secret court hearings in cabinet committee (chaired by Nick Clegg) and at the National Security Council and sounded like a man who had every intention of making sure the measures agreed at those meetings come into law.

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6 reader comments

  1. Saltaire Sam says:

    Last week Cameron was chairing Cobra to defend country against tanker drivers.

    Threat of strike still there, but now he’s in Japan.

    What’s changed apart from the fact that attention has been diverted from rich-men’s budget, cash for dinners etc etc?

  2. Saltaire Sam says:

    And on competitiveness v popularity.

    Can anyone explain how cutting 50p rate to 45p increases Britain’s attractiveness to those brilliant entrepreneurs but the claim of ‘taking five times as much off them’ doesn’t make it five times more likely they won’t come?

    Does this government ever look at its statements and say ‘at least we should be consistent in our lies’?

  3. Philip says:

    At least he’s currently doing something that he knows a little about – PR. And from his own lips, it would appear that this is what he thinks is the job of the PM – to do PR. It’s a pity that PR is about all he knows anything about. I think he’s failed to grasp something that PR men never seem to do – that it’s not what you say that counts (however persuasive you may seem in the short term) but what you do & what the effects of that is. The trouble is – politicians now believe we are “consumers” of politics and they address themselves to us as if we were deciding which brand of detergent we are planning to buy. That’s why we don’t trust any of them.

  4. Andrew Dundas says:

    Since 2005, our UK pound has fallen around 38% by market value versus the Japanese Yen.
    With such a massive discount to play with, even a weak sales guy should be able to sell more stuff to the Japanese.
    Or have I missed something?

  5. sue_m says:

    Taking your chums/party donors on an overseas trip to drum up business for them is part of being PM?
    If they are any good in business they are perfectly capable of approaching Japan themselves. Given how weak Cameron is they would probably do much better without his help anyway.
    Unless of course, this trip is ‘cash for access’ ie give the tory party some money and they’ll get you access to the Japanese government.

  6. Remi Sinclare says:

    I don’t know why David Cameron think that as for the technology of decommissioning new clear power plants, UK is superior to Japan. Surely, in Sellafield, reprocessing used nuclear fuels was done for some Japanese nuclear power companies. But, on the other hand, I have heard that it caused serious contamination of sea and the air.
    I think that the decommission must be that which does not let out at all gases or particles of poisonous radio active materials. I wonder whether UK, which does not have even factories like Nissan’s, has this sort of technology at all.

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