Japanese and Chinese finance ministers on Saturday agreed to cooperate over contributions to the International Monetary Fund amid efforts to help subdue Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.
Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi and his Chinese counterpart Xie Xuren met in Tokyo as part of their regular dialogue, Jiji Press and Kyodo News reported.
Azumi told reporters that the two countries would discuss further funding to strengthen the IMF’s financial bases so that the Washington-based multilateral lender can play a more active role in preventing Europe’s debt crisis from dragging down global economic growth.
Azumi said that Japan and China have yet to decide on further financial contributions to the IMF.
“Although a critical moment of the European issue has gone, we can never be optimistic,” Azumi told reporters, according to Jiji.
After providing loans to help debt-wracked countries such as Greece, IMF chief Christine Lagarde has asked members to give the fund $500 billion extra for possible future bailouts.
The issue is expected to be top of the agenda at a meeting of finance ministers from the Group of 20 on April 20. “As for contributions to the IMF, we agreed to high-level discussions until (the G-20 meeting in) Washington,” Japan’s Finance Minister Jun Azumi told reporters after meeting Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren, who was visiting Tokyo to exchange views on economic and financial conditions in both countries. G-20 finance officials and central bankers will meet in Washington on April 19-20. The IMF in January said it may need an increase of as much as $600 billion in lending capacity. The US has said it will offer no more financial support to the fund, but Japan and China have expressed a willingness to do so if Europe itself first takes more steps to deal with its problems.
Azumi said last week that the deal was “a big step forward.”
Japan and China agreed to coordinate their response to requests for additional IMF funding in February. The cooperation between Tokyo and Beijing underscores the close financial ties between Asia’s two biggest economies despite persistent tensions over a territorial dispute that have dogged their political relations.
“Both ministers agreed to close cooperation between Japan and China under multilateral frameworks such as the G-20,” as well as regional frameworks such as Japan-China-Korea, the two countries said in a joint statement after Saturday’s finance ministers meeting.