Japan faces a challenge in bridging a widening divide over how to revitalize sluggish growth in leading economies at a summit of top financial officials that began Thursday with the group bashing in the lids of sake barrels.

The finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of Seven industrial nations were engaging in a local tradition for kicking off festivities, but it was in keeping with what could be a fractious event.

Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said the talks that get underway in earnest on Friday would focus on fiscal and monetary policy, the international financial system, sustainable development and issues such as money laundering and tax evasion.