2013 年 2013 巻 173 号 p. 173_98-173_111
Due to Japan’s flood of export during the 1970s and 80s, Japan and the EC (European Community) member states faced trade conflict. Because the common foreign trade policy was launched in January 1970, member states were to abolish bilateral safe-guard measures and agree with Japan on a common foreign tariff. Negotiation between MOFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan) and the European Commission, however, faced a deadlock. The Federal Republic claimed free trade and condemned France and Italy for keeping protectionist measures against Japan.
Britain, however, took a unique position by both criticising Japan’s aggressive export as “abuse of free (trade) rules” on one hand, but also inviting Japanese companies, especially Nissan, to build a factory in Britain on the other. Margaret Thatcher decided to invite Nissan from the first day of her office. The British automobile industry, which had been heavily penetrated by car imports from Germany, France and Italy after Britain had entered into the EC in 1973, could export to the EC market vigorously and therefore reduce Britain’s trade deficit. A new Nissan factory would also reduce unemployment and boost economy in developing areas: Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Due to its ambition to overtake its impeccable rival Toyota, Nissan agreed to Thatcher’s invitation, regardless of the costs and risks: the overall investment cost of 200 million Pounds, required high local contents of cars produced in the new factory, reliability of Britishmade parts, and frequent labour disputes. Nissan’s advance into Britain made Thatcher’s administration into a fore-runner of EC common policies of welcoming foreign investment into the EC, acquiring Japanese management techniques, and furthering free trade. For such sudden and drastic change of Britain’s EC diplomacy, Thatcher and her office was condemned not only by France and Italy but also by Germany as a “Trojan horse of Japan.”