The Japanese government remained cautious about joining a planned Chinese-led Asian development bank on Tuesday, hours before the deadline China has set for accepting founding members. “We have no choice but to be very cautious about participation” unless the proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank clears such conditions as securing fair governance, Finance Minister Taro Aso told a press conference. As a condition for Japan’s participation in the bank, Aso also called for loans to be screened for their environmental and social impact and for the bank board to approve projects individually. His comments came as more countries announced their intention to join the bank, with the end-of-March deadline looming for filing applications. The number of prospective founding members has reached more than 40. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that Japan has not obtained a clear explanation from China on its concerns about the proposed bank’s governance. Japan would continue to call on China to provide such explanation in collaboration with other countries “without a specific deadline in mind”, Kishida said. President Xi Jinping announced last year a project to set up the bank in Beijing with initial capital of around US$50 billion, with China planning to be the biggest stakeholder. The bank will offer loans for infrastructure projects, such as roads, ports and railways in developing and emerging countries and is due to be formally established later this year. The United States, Japan and some other countries have been wary about their participation because the initiative is seen as expanding China’s global influence and a potential rival to Washington-dominated existing institutions such as the World Bank. While US officials have expressed wariness over the China-led bank they have also started saying recently that the new institution should work closely with existing development banks to ensure it has proper lending standards.