Japan is split over joining a new China-led development bank, concerned about missing out on the rapidly coalescing global movement for the institution while also worried about alienating its ally the United States and bolstering rival China, officials said.

Finance Minister Taro Aso signalled for the first time on Friday that Tokyo could be part of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) if it can guarantee a credible mechanism for providing loans.

But other top officials took a more skeptical stance, reflecting a split in the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over whether the AIIB would help or hinder Japan's interests.