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Finance

Japan to feel out China, G-7 in making AIIB decision

TOKYO -- Japan plans to decide whether to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank by the end of June, after assessing information gathered from interactions with China, Europe and the U.S.

     Japanese and Chinese finance officials are slated to meet in early June in Beijing to discuss a wide range of topics, including the yuan, shadow banking, and the finances of both countries. Japan will take this opportunity to gauge China's response to demands made by other countries about AIIB operations.

     Japan will also count on European countries. China is working with countries that have expressed their intention to join the bank in an effort to hammer out details of the establishment agreement by the end of June. The discussions have been held every two months since last fall, but developed countries that have recently said they will sign on, such as Germany, France and Australia, will join the meetings starting in May.

     These countries are expected to help improve the transparency of the organization, says a British finance ministry official.

     Japan sees a gap between China and these European countries, which put an emphasis on human rights and environmental issues. Japan will monitor whether China makes concessions through its dialogue with the Europeans. In late May, when Group of Seven finance ministers and central bank governors meet in Germany, Japan will discuss the AIIB with other G-7 members.

     The U.S. is the other key consideration for Japan. Akira Amari, state minister for economic and fiscal policy, told a press conference Tuesday that Japan's decision will be premised on close communication with the U.S. The two countries are planning a summit meeting later this month. They may mention the AIIB and their own existing initiative, the Asian Development Bank, in a statement afterward.

     China first approached Japan about joining the AIIB last spring. That April, Japan and the U.S. said in a joint statement that they support the ADB's infrastructure development efforts in Asia, effectively keeping the Chinese plan at arm's length.

(Nikkei)

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