Business / Economy

Japan estimates potential AIIB membership would cost ¥360 billion

Bloomberg, Kyodo

Joining the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will cost Japan about ¥360 billion and give it a stake about half that of Beijing, according to government estimates in a document obtained by Bloomberg.

Japan’s initial contribution would be ¥180 billion, before doubling when the AIIB raises capital levels, according to the estimate from Tokyo, which is calculated on the size of each member’s gross domestic product. It would be the second-largest stakeholder with 14.7 percent, behind China at 28.5 percent, the document shows.

Japan and the U.S. have so far declined China’s invitation to become part of the AIIB, even though allies such as the U.K., Australia, South Korea, Germany and France have embraced it. The U.S. shaped institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and along with Japan dominates the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The cost estimate for Japan to join the AIIB was made April 10, after the deadline had passed for applying to become a founding member. It was presented to ruling party lawmakers for discussion about joining in the future.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said March 31 it was “impossible” for Japan to join unless China answered its concerns about how the bank would operate. Finance Minister Taro Aso has said China needs to set out terms for the bank’s governance.

Jin Liqun, the secretary-general of the secretariat for establishing the bank, was willing to offer Japan the most senior deputy governor post and a seat on the board if it became a founding member, the Nikkei newspaper reported Tuesday, without saying where it got the information.

The AIIB, which will be based in Beijing, will be authorized to lend as much as $100 billion, though initially its subscribed funds, which include paid-in and callable capital, will be $50 billion.

The Manila-based ADB, whose major shareholders are the U.S. and Japan, had $153 billion in capital as of the end of 2014.

According to the Japanese government’s estimate, 75 percent of the AIIB will be owned by Asian nations, with the remainder by non-Asian countries.

Some 46 nations have received approval to become prospective founding members, China’s Ministry of Finance said in a statement posted on its website.

During a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Aso said he will reiterate Japan’s stance of seeking transparency in the AIIB’s governance and its screening for the provision of loans when he attends the Group of 20 finance chiefs’ meeting later this week.

“If I am asked about the AIIB, I will talk about what I have said previously,” Aso said.

Aso is to attend the two-day G-20 meeting starting Thursday in Washington, along with Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda.

Aso said he will argue that Japan’s economy is improving as a result of the government’s “Abenomics” policy mix.

“I will have to say that Japan’s current situation is starting to change in a favorable way compared to the previous meeting” in February, Aso said.

He referred to an annualized real 1.5 percent growth in gross domestic product in the October-December period, the first expansion in three quarters.

In a statement issued at the previous meeting in Istanbul, Japan was pointed to as one of several advanced economies where progress in economic recovery was slow.

The Abenomics policy mix centers on drastic monetary easing and massive fiscal spending.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5