TOKYO, Sept 9 (Reuters) – Japan’s giant online brokerage SBI Holdings Inc is considering retreating from Hong Kong which has been unstable due to a new security law imposed by China, a spokesman said on Wednesday, confirming reports by local media.
SBI, which operates a securities business as well as research and development of medical supplies in Hong Kong, has become the first Japanese financial firm to clearly indicate such a move is under consideration.
“It’s true we are considering retreating from Hong Kong or downsizing our business there,” the spokesman said, adding the company believes Hong Kong’s status as a global financial centre may fall.
The spokesman said the company employs dozens of people there but declined to comment on where it might move to.
Chief Executive Yoshitaka Kitao has pledged to position Japan as a global financial centre, replacing Hong Kong, according to Japan’s Jiji news agency.
China’s parliament in June passed national security legislation for Hong Kong, raising fears among democracy activists and some foreign governments that Beijing is further eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Given such uncertainty, the Japanese government has shown its intention to improve its standing as a global financial centre by implementing measures such as tax reform.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who last month said he would resign, had suggested in parliament that Japan could take in Hong Kong residents who worked in the financial sector or other specialised areas. (Reporting by Takashi Umekawa; editing by Jason Neely)