During a four-day visit to China from Sept. 3, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto will call for bilateral defense dialogue to be strengthened in meetings between high-ranking officials from the two countries.

The visit is aimed at forging stronger relations in a wide range of areas, including defense and the environment. The dialogue on defense is aimed at gaining Beijing’s understanding of the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. China has expressed concern over the review of Japan-U.S. defense guidelines for joint military cooperation in the event of an emergency in areas surrounding Japan.

Last month, Chief Cabinet Secretary Seiroku Kajiyama offended Chinese leaders by saying that an emergency in the Taiwan Strait would be covered by joint Japan-U.S. actions under the revised guidelines. Later in August, Hashimoto said in a speech that Japan and China must increase dialogue, particularly on security and defense matters, to ensure peace in post-Cold War Asia.

During the visit, which will commemorate the 25th anniversary of resumed bilateral ties, Hashimoto will meet with Prime Minister Li Peng and President Jiang Zemin. Among the issues Hashimoto is expected to discuss are the disposal of chemical weapons left in China by the Imperial Japanese Army at the end of World War II, environmental protection in China and Beijing’s bid to join the World Trade Organization.

In addition, Hashimoto will announce 200 billion yen in loans to China for fiscal 1997, mainly to help with environmental protection and inland development. Hashimoto also will visit Dalian and a war museum in Shenyang.

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