Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, in Tokyo, March 10, 2016. He pledged to bolster reconstruction efforts in northern Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, in Tokyo, March 10, 2016. He pledged to bolster reconstruction efforts in northern Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has warned that a British exit from the European Union could negatively affect Japanese investment there.

"A vote to leave would make the U.K. less attractive as a destination for Japanese investment," Abe said Thursday at a news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London.

About 1,000 Japanese companies operate in Britain, employing 140,000 people, Abe said. Many are based there, he added, "precisely because [Britain] is a gateway to the EU."

"It is better for the world that Britain remain within a strong EU," he said. "We want to see Britain and Europe remain influential actors on the global stage, contributing to a rule-based peace and stability, including in Asia."

Cameron said Britain benefited from Japanese investments of around $55 billion.

On June 23, in a referendum called by the prime minister, British voters will decide whether to leave the 28-nation European Union. 

Analysts say "Brexit" - the popular term in London for a British exit from the EU, would unleash volatility in foreign currency, stocks and bond markets, and leave questions about the fate of the British economy.

WATCH: What is Brexit?

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