When world leaders adopt new international principles for "quality infrastructure" during the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Osaka, it will be the moment when Japan's flagship initiative will finally bear fruit after years in the making.

In recent years, Japan has promoted what it calls high-quality infrastructure as the antithesis of a more quantity-driven strategy spearheaded by China, which has wooed developing economies by rolling out cheaper, if inferior, infrastructure programs under the multibillion-dollar "Belt and Road" initiative (BRI).

A tone of pride in scoring a preliminary endorsement of the principles was palpable when Finance Minister Taro Aso reflected on the outcome of a meeting with his fellow G20 finance leaders held in the city of Fukuoka earlier this month.