* Nissan announces $200 mln investment in Britain
* Cameron says focus on business deals, trade
* British PM heads to Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar after
By Mohammed Abbas
TOKYO, April 10 Britain and Japan said on
Tuesday they have agreed to jointly develop and build defence
equipment, the first time since World War Two that Japan has
concluded a weapons-building deal with a country other than the
The announcement came at the start of a tour of Japan and
southeast Asia by British Prime Minister David Cameron aimed at
boosting trade ties with the region.
"We have decided to identify a range of appropriate defence
equipment for joint development and production ... which
contributes to both countries' security and presents industrial
opportunities," said a statement from Cameron and Japanese Prime
Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
Without elaborating, the leaders agreed to "seek to launch
at least one programme of such defence equipment as soon as
possible and explore the feasibility of a future major
Japanese defence policy changed last December to allow
Japanese companies to export weapons and collaborate with
countries other than its main ally, the United States.
Hours before Cameron's plane touched down in Tokyo, Japanese
carmaker Nissan Motor Co said it would spend $200
million to build a new hatchback at its British plant.
Cameron's two-year-old coalition government is trying to
boost British manufacturing to lessen reliance on a financial
services sector roiled by the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.
It also seeks to limit the economy's exposure to the crisis-hit
euro zone by doing more business with fast-growing Asian
economies and emerging markets around the world.
British officials said, in all, more than 200 million pounds
($317.19 million) of Japanese investment in Britain had been
agreed, including a Mitsubishi Corp wind turbine
research project in Edinburgh and a Panasonic fuel cell
research centre in Cardiff.
"This trip is really about British business, British exports
and investment from Britain into these countries, and investment
from these countries into Britain," Cameron told reporters.
"Nissan's investment in the UK is a huge vote of confidence
in the skills and flexibility of the UK workforce. We want to
attract more investment like this," he said.
Nissan's new car will go into production in 2014 and create
225 jobs at its Sunderland factory in northern England and 900
more at the carmaker's British suppliers.
The new commitment comes on top of $200 million earmarked
for production of a new compact car Nissan announced last month
and will take manufacturing capacity at Britain's biggest car
plant beyond 550,000 vehicles a year.
Accompanied by about 35 executives from defence, energy,
construction and other firms, Cameron will head from Tokyo to
Indonesia on Wednesday and Malaysia the following day.
On Friday, Cameron is due in Myanmar where he will meet
pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as the first major Western
leader to visit the long-isolated country since a 1962 coup
began a half century of military rule.
His visit, confirmed by sources in Myanmar, comes nearly two
weeks after Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won a
historic by-election by a landslide, convincing the United
States and European Union to consider relaxing economic
sanctions imposed years ago in response to human rights abuses.
DEFENCE, NUCLEAR ON AGENDA
In Japan, Cameron and Noda were also discussing cooperation
on nuclear decommissioning and free trade, as well as the
violence in Syria and relations with Iran and North Korea.
Architecture and infrastructure firms and nuclear industry
executives are with Cameron, reflecting British hopes for a
slice of the vast sums Japan will spend to clean up and rebuild
regions devastated by last year's earthquake and tsunami.
The tsunami washed away swathes of Japan's northeastern
coast and wrecked the Fukushima nuclear plant north of Tokyo,
releasing radiation and forcing 80,000 people from their homes.
"British companies have significant expertise in nuclear
decommissioning and clean-up, with 19 nuclear sites in the UK
currently being managed through the process," Cameron said.
Progress on securing a free trade agreement between the
European Union and Japan is also on the agenda.
In Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, the
British delegation will focus on deals in energy, construction,
retail, pharmaceutical, defence and financial services sectors.
"There's enormous upside potential, and I think a number of
businesses are very excited by the fact we're going to
Indonesia," Cameron told reporters.
In Malaysia, Britain aims to tap the Southeast Asian
country's position as a regional education hub, with many
Western universities setting up campuses there.
The British leader also hopes to bolster moderate forces in
the two Muslim democracies.
"There's the issue of encouraging moderate Islam and showing
that Islam and democracy are compatible. And I think that both
Indonesia and Malaysia are great examples of that," Cameron