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Economy

Japan to brief G-20 on sales tax hike, stimulus measures

WASHINGTON -- Finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the Group of 20 are gathering here Thursday for a meeting that will test the world's leading economies' commitment to growth amid tensions over Ukraine.

     Russia, which has been excluded from the Group of Eight advanced economies, remains part of the G-20.

     Financial support for Ukraine will be on the agenda at the conference. The International Monetary Fund, Japan, the U.S., and the European Union are putting together an international aid package for Ukraine that is expected to total $27 billion over two years. Japan will brief the group on its plans for up to $1.5 billion in economic assistance.

     Finance Minister Taro Aso and Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda will represent Japan at the meeting. The Japanese side will report on the April 1 consumption tax hike -- Japan's first in 17 years -- and explain 5.5 trillion yen ($53.3 billion) in stimulus measures meant to counter any adverse side effects.

     Japan will seek to portray these efforts as necessary to prevent a backslide into recession.

     G-20 economies need to avoid excessive fiscal austerity, a senior U.S. official said.

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