By Tetsushi Kajimoto
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese and Chinese finance officials will hold talks on June 6 in Beijing to discuss ways to promote cooperation between the two countries and may exchange views on the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Japanese officials said.
The talks mark the first bilateral finance dialogue since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in late 2012 as diplomatic relations have been strained between the two countries over the wartime past and territorial disputes in the East China Sea.
Finance Minister Taro Aso, his deputies and bureau chiefs will hold meetings with their Chinese counterparts during the half-day event, the officials said on Thursday.
The two sides may discuss the AIIB if necessary, a Japanese finance ministry source said.
“We will exchange views on macro economy and confirm our cooperation on bilateral and multilateral levels,” the source said. “There’s possibility that AIIB may be on agenda and we are making arrangements in case the issue is taken up.”
A total of 57 countries have joined AIIB as its founding members, China has said. Among the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries, the United States, Japan and Canada remain absentees.
Washington has cautioned nations about joining the bank, seen as a rival to the U.S.-dominated World Bank, citing what it called a lack of transparency, doubts about lending and environmental safeguards, and concerns over Beijing’s influence.
Japan and China have held the finance talks four times since their first meeting in 2006, aimed at deepening financial cooperation.
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chris Gallagher & Kim Coghill)