The nongovernment coalition Jubilee 2000 Japan urged Finance Minister Kiichi Miyazawa on Thursday to take the initiative at the upcoming meeting of the Group of Seven economic powers to solve the serious debt problems of the world’s poorest countries.

The coalition demanded that in their meeting Saturday, G7 finance ministers decide on radical and speedy measures, such as immediately forgiving all bilateral public debts of the poorest countries.

Yoko Kitazawa, joint chairwoman of Jubilee 2000 Japan, handed a letter of requests to Finance Ministry officials in charge of international development policy at the ministry building.

Jubilee 2000 is an international movement calling for debt-waiver for the poorest countries.

The G7 conference, to be held in Fukuoka as a prelude to the Okinawa G8 summit later this month, is scheduled to discuss ways to make the best use of their debt-relief initiatives, among other topics.

Chuan joins G8 talks

Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai will be one of the four leaders from developing nations who will meet in Tokyo on July 20 with leaders from the Group of Eight major nations on the eve of the G8 summit in Okinawa, Japanese government sources said.

Japan has invited Chuan, as representative of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, to take part in the meeting along with the leaders of South Africa, which heads the Conference on Non-Aligned Nations; Nigeria, which heads the Group of 77; and Algeria, which steers the Organization of African Unity.

Thailand also chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Japan, as host of the July 21-23 summit, has set up the occasion so the G8 can communicate directly with leaders of developing nations on issues that are expected to be taken up in Okinawa, such as debt relief and the “digital divide” in global access to information technology, the sources said.

The Conference on Non-Aligned Nations, led by South Africa, comprises 112 nations and the Palestinian authority.

The G77, led by Nigeria, is composed of 133 developing nations.

The G8 leaders are scheduled to gather in Tokyo for bilateral talks before flying to Okinawa for the annual summit.

The confirmation Wednesday that U.S. President Bill Clinton, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other G8 leaders would be making stopovers in Tokyo made it possible to finalize the July 20 meeting with the leaders of the developing nations.

Some G8 nations had informally said their leaders might alter their schedules and fly directly to Okinawa because the Japanese government canceled a state banquet slated for July 20 in Tokyo following the death of the Empress Dowager on June 16. The Emperor was to be the host.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of Thailand, Nigeria, South Africa, Colombia and Bangladesh are to meet their G8 counterparts during the presummit meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Miyazaki.

The G8 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and Russia.