* Key would be how quickly Japan decides to join - Nikai
* Questions over AIIB's governance must be solved - Abe
* Nikai meets China's Xi - Xinhua news agency
(Adds Xinhua report on meeting with Xi, paragraph 4)
By Leika Kihara
TOKYO, May 16 Japan's senior ruling party
official has signalled Tokyo's readiness to join the
China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), saying
it was crucial to reach a decision soon, the Nikkei newspaper
reported on Tuesday.
"The key would be how quickly Japan can decide to
participate," Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party, was quoted as telling reporters on
Known for his close ties to China, Nikai was in Beijing to
attend a two-day summit of China's Belt and Road initiative that
concluded on Monday.
Nikai met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday, according
to China's state-owned Xinhua news agency, and Xi expressed hope
that joint efforts would be made to ensure bilateral ties
developed in the right direction.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview with
CNBC on Monday that joining AIIB, created at least in part as a
way to fund the Belt and Road initiative, could be an option if
questions over the bank's governance were resolved.
"For now, we are still monitoring (AIIB's) operations
carefully," he was quoted as saying.
Japan, following Washington's lead under former U.S.
President Barack Obama, did not join the AIIB, partly from
concern it was a vehicle to boost China's regional clout and a
potential rival of the Asian Development Bank, the Manila-based
institution dominated by Japan and the United States.
At the summit, Xi and 29 other heads of state reaffirmed
their commitment to building an open economy and ensuring free
and inclusive trade under the Belt and Road initiative led by
(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by