Japan open to IMF aid talks, if U.S. is

Kyodo

Japan will not reject talks on increasing the resources of the International Monetary Fund to help ease tensions over the eurozone sovereign debt crisis but the United States must be involved in the process, Finance Minister Jun Azumi said Friday.

“At first, the IMF should sufficiently communicate with the U.S. side,” Azumi told reporters. “If we are to reinforce the IMF’s functions, then we need U.S. cooperation. We would like (the IMF) to make such an effort.”

The Washington-based lender has estimated it will need an extra $500 billion in resources to prevent the fiscal problems in Europe from slowing global economic growth, and the situation will generate demand worldwide for bailout loans of $1 trillion in the coming years. But Washington has denied any intention to boost resources for the IMF.

The U.S. is the biggest stakeholder in the 187-member fund, followed by Japan. The IMF currently has about $390 billion in lending resources, the Finance Ministry said.

Azumi said Japan will seek information from the IMF about the possible resource increase, suggesting Tokyo’s commitment could be decided after it receives a convincing explanation.

The issue will likely be high on the agenda of finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies, who meet in Mexico on Feb. 25 and 26.

As for U.S. economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear development program, Azumi said the United States is expected to make a “realistic response” to the benefit of Japanese banks.