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Wednesday, 15 April, 1998, 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
G7 finance ministers urge Japan reforms
Matsunaga arrives
Japanese Finance Minister, Hikaru Matsunaga, had to face concern over Japanese economy
The economic problems of Japan have dominated the talks in Washington between the International Monetary Fund and the finance ministers of the seven leading industrialised nations (G7).

The ministers issued a statement urging Japan to implement quickly fiscal and structural reforms.

Rubin: Japanese have to get back on track
Rubin: Japanese have to get back on track
Before the meeting, the United States Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, said it was vital to get the Japanese economy back on track.

"A strong Japan is very very important to the rest of Asia and also to the world economy as a whole," Mr Rubin said.

And the German Finance Minister, Theo Waigel, urged Japan to act more energetically to consolidate its financial system.

Both Rubin and Waigel gave a cautious welcome to Japan's 16 trillion yen (124 billion dollar) spending plan, including four trillion yen in tax cuts over two years, unveiled last week, saying they were anxiously awaiting full details.

German team: Theo Waigel and Hans Tietmeyer
German team: Theo Waigel and Hans Tietmeyer
Correspondents say international pressure on the Japanese authorities to take serious action to tackle the country's problems seems to be reaching a peak.

In their four-hour session the ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States also discussed a recent sharp rise in US and European stock markets, and concern that they are heading for a fall.

Other topics on the G7 agenda included the Asian financial crisis and ways to reform the multilateral financial system and multilateral institutions to help prevent future crises.

Wednesday's meeting will be followed on Thursday by the first such session for finance chiefs of the G22: the G7 plus 15 other Asian, African, Eastern European and Latin American nations.

See also:

27 Mar 98 | Despatches
Japan unveils $124bn package
10 Apr 98 | Asia-Pacific
Markets reject Japan package
08 Apr 98 | Asia-Pacific
Japanese parliament approves budget
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