Japan would consider joining China-led AIIB if doubts are dispelled, Abe says

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday he could be open to considering joining the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank if questions surrounding projects’ environmental impacts and other issues are resolved.

Abe made the remark on a Japanese television program following China’s hosting of a two-day international forum on the “One Belt, One Road” cross-continental infrastructure development plan the AIIB is set to finance.

Japan and the United States, the main backers of the decades-older Asian Development Bank, are the only members of the Group of Seven leading nations not signed up to the AIIB.

Sources close to the Abe administration have said the suggestion that Japan join the AIIB has been recently gaining traction. Toshihiro Nikai, the secretary-general of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, has indicated his support for the idea.

Abe also said on the program that he wants to hold a bilateral meeting with new South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Germany in July.

He said he hopes Japan and the other 10 remaining signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact will be able to bring the deal into force on their own following the withdrawal of the United States but also expressed a wish for Washington to return to the pact in the future.

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