Tokyo — As ambassador to the UK, Yoshiji Nogami helped arrange some key Japanese investments and grew to see the British people as pragmatic and practical. That was until the Brexit vote. “Are you out of your minds?” was the former diplomat’s reaction when he heard the result of the 2016 referendum. “I knew at the time there would be a mess,” he recalled. Nissan’s decision to scrap plans to build the X-Trail SUV model at its plant in northeast England is one example of the fallout from the vote to leave the EU. With no deal yet agreed on with the EU — the destination for most of the output from Japan’s flagship firms in Britain — the threat of more blows is real and growing. The feeling of incredulity at the UK’s self-inflicted predicament is reflected across the globe as the world watches the country convulse over how to follow through on Brexit. Prime Minister Theresa May insisted as recently as Thursday that she will deliver Brexit on time, but interviews with pollsters, trade an...

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