Japan remains ambiguous over China-proposed AIIB, eyeing consultation with U.S.

2015-04-11 11:37Xinhua Editor: Gu Liping

Japan seems still ambiguous over whether or not to join the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and eyes to discuss the issue with the United States in an upcoming summit between the two allies later this month.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama would cover the AIIB issue during their summit on April 28 in efforts to reaffirm their requirement to ensure the new developmental bank's fair governance and transparency, local report said Friday, citing unnamed diplomatic sources here Thursday.

Japan and the United States decided to stay out of China's initiative by the March 31 deadline as both countries worry that the AIIB may pose a challenge to the Japan-led Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the U.S.-dominated World Bank.

However, China has underlined that the AIIB will take an open and inclusive attitude and be complementary to existing development banks and it will strengthen the region's communication, social and economic development, according Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his recent meeting with ADB President Takehiko Nakao in Beijing.

Abe said by the March 31 deadline "there is no need to participate (in AIIB) hastily" and "the United States now knows that Japan is trustworthy," referring to other major European countries in the Group of Seven (G7) that already applied for the membership of the AIIB.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida also mulls to urge his G7 counterparts from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States that the AIIB should be managed in line with international standards, said Japan's Kyodo News on Friday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yushihide Suga reiterated a day earlier that Japan remains "cautious" about the AIIB and declined to comment on a government draft released by Kyodo News that Japan envisages a possible up to 1.5 billion U.S. dollar contribution to the AIIB in the event that Japan joins.

"I refrain from commenting on every news report," the top government spokesman said in a press briefing Thursday.

"The government is conducting various studies, but our country maintains a cautious stance about participation in the AIIB," he said.

Meanwhile, Kiyoyuki Seguchi, research director of the Canon Institute for Global Studies, questioned the draft as the amount of the contribution is too small for Japan to play an important role in the AIIB if it decides to join and urged Japan to participate in the new regional developmental bank.

"Joining negotiation will increase the amount of information available and the final decision on whether to join the bank will be easier to make," said Seguchi, also an expert on Chinese economy, who suggested that Japan should directly involve in the AIIB so as to seek internal reform, rather than staying out and asking for reform.

Recent reports said that Japan and China would like to discuss the AIIB in June as the two sides are eyeing finance ministers meeting in June in Beijing.

International lenders have expressed their willingness to cooperate with China's AIIB initiative.

"We need to work together, we need to cooperation," Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said Thursday in a speech in Washington.

She hailed the AIIB as a "great initiative" and said the trend reflects the transformation of the global economy with new key players.

For the U.S. part, Treasure Secretary Jacob Lew softened his hostile stance toward the AIIB, saying last month after his two- day Beijing visit that his country "stands ready to welcome new additions to the international development architecture, including the AIIB," adding that "these institutions complement existing international financial institutions."

"I was encouraged by my conversations in Beijing in which China 's leaders made clear that they aspire to meet high standards and welcome partnership," Lew said, adding that having the AIIB co- finance projects with existing institutions will help demonstrate a commitment to the highest standards of governance, environmental and social safeguards and debt-sustainability.

The AIIB, with an expected initial subscribed capital of 50 billion U.S. dollars, will be an international financial institution to fund infrastructure projects in Asia and is expected to be formally established by the end of this year.

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