Warnings that Japanese R&D investment in the UK is endangered by plans to leave the EU

Japanese R&D work in the UK is threatened by the country’s withdrawal from the EU, Japan’s foreign ministry has warned.

The memo suggests that relocation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) from London is of particular concern as Japanese drug firms have based their operations in the UK to be near the regulatory body. ‘If the EMA were to transfer to other EU member states, the appeal of London as an environment for the development of pharmaceuticals would be lost, which could possibly lead to a shift in the flow of R&D funds and personnel to continental Europe,’ the document notes. ‘This could force Japanese companies to reconsider their business activities.’

The ministry’s statement also notes that an equivalent framework for regulations in fields like chemicals, medicines and medicinal products, must be maintained or established between the UK and Europe. If the UK were to create regulations and certification procedures that differ from those of the EU, then Japanese businesses operating in Europe would have to accommodate two different systems, and that would create disruption and increase R&D and administrative costs.

Furthermore, the Japanese agency requests ‘unified protection of intellectual property rights’, emphasising the importance of safeguarding IP in the UK and the EU. The statement also underscores the importance of the UK maintaining access to the EU’s science and research programmes.