• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi promised his Group of Eight partners Wednesday that he will carry out decisive structural reforms to contribute to global economic growth.

Koizumi made the pledge as the G8 leaders expressed confidence in the outlook for the global economy as well as for the Japanese economy, which has the worst performance among the world’s richest countries.

Koizumi told his G8 partners that Japan in May declared the economy had bottomed out and said his country will promote reforms in order to help guide the world economy back onto a growth track.

The G8 leaders kicked off their two-day annual summit Wednesday at the Canadian Rockies resort of Kanansakis, Alberta.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien later told reporters the leaders “all agreed that the situation is better in 2002 than it was in 2001, and it will get better in 2003.”

Chretien, who is hosting the meeting, said some problems still exist, including Japan’s fragile economic situation, but added even Japan “sees better prospects for next year.”

U.S. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters the mood of the G8 meeting is upbeat with regard to the global economy.

The G8 leaders uniformly expressed optimism in an apparent attempt to quell concerns over the health of the global economy in the wake of tumbling U.S. share prices, which are affecting markets around the world, and the weakening dollar.

Koizumi was quoted by a Japanese official as saying, “I have been implementing reforms over the past year, which nobody has ever carried out before, and I can never turn back.”

Koizumi’s administration adopted a new economic and fiscal policy package Tuesday — just ahead of the summit — aimed at revitalizing Japan’s economy and comprehensively reforming its tax system through such measures as cutting the corporate tax rate.

Several of the G8 leaders applauded and congratulated Koizumi on his achievements, the official said.

In a bilateral meeting Tuesday, U.S. President George W. Bush urged Koizumi to step up reform efforts to contribute to global growth, noting that Japan plays a major role in the world economy and that its economic fundamentals need to be further strengthened. so it can play an even greater role.

The G8 groups the Group of Seven economic powers — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — and Russia.

G7 finance ministers, at a meeting earlier this month in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to prepare for the leaders’ summit, expressed confidence that a global economic recovery is under way.

In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., the G7 finance ministers engaged in coordinated efforts to counter the negative impact of the attacks on the world economy and to foster a global economic recovery.

Despite the general improvement in the global economic situation, however, uncertainties remain over its sustainability, particularly in light of concerns over the strength of the U.S. economy.

Worries that the U.S. economic rebound may only be temporary have been fueled by recent plunges in U.S. share prices and falls in the value of the dollar against major currencies, but U.S. officials remain confident in the strength of the economy.

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