Japan and Britain shared concerns Monday over the recent instability of the Indonesian rupiah but agreed that South Korea is making progress in escaping its economic quagmire, according to a senior Japanese government official.Visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair met with Finance Minister Hiroshi Mitsuzuka to discuss issues such as the Asian currency turmoil and Tokyo’s efforts to prop up its own financial sector. The official said both agreed that South Korea is moving out of its currency crisis by taking policy steps in line with an economic adjustment program agreed to with the International Monetary Fund last month.However, the situation in Indonesia is worrisome, Mitsuzuka said, stressing the need for the Group of Seven nations to keep watch over developments while having the IMF remain the pivotal player in any assistance program, according to the official.Mitsuzuka also outlined the various steps Tokyo is taking to stabilize its financial sector after a flurry of autumn failures. Among those is the pledge to use up to 30 trillion yen in public funds to protect deposits and inject new capital into banks, and the official said Blair is supportive of the measures.Blair, for his part, indicated that his nation would join the European Union’s moves toward creating a single currency early next century if the system operates smoothly, the official said.In a meeting Monday with trade chief Mitsuo Horiuchi, Blair expressed support Monday for Japan’s economic structural reform and “Big Bang” financial liberalization.Accompanied by a group of business leaders, Blair also called for greater cooperation between Japanese and British businesses in exploring third-country markets, according to an official at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.Responding to Horiuchi’s inquiry concerning Britain’s position on the European Monetary Union, Blair said his nation will decide on the timing of joining the monetary union based on economic merits.He added it is becoming common understanding that Jan. 1, 1999, is not appropriate timing for the move.

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