Japan's businesses must realise Britain's membership of the European Union is "over," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said today, while touting France as an attractive post-Brexit alternative. "The message is clear for us: firstly, the presence of Britain in the European Union is over," he said describing his discussions with local business leaders during a four-day trip to Japan. "I felt that there were maybe some voices saying 'perhaps it.' No! It's over," he added, encouraging Japanese companies to face the reality of Britain's departure from the EU. "In March 2019, it will be the end," he said at a conference on the last day of his trip. Japanese banks were among the first to react to Britain's June 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU, with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group saying in 2017 it would create a subsidiary in Frankfurt in preparation for Brexit. But Japanese companies present in Britain have been more cautious about publicly announcing similar Brexit plans, despite the efforts of other European countries to woo those looking for alternatives.