BEIJING — Japan pledged to provide Beijing with an aid package worth more than 200 billion yen Sept. 4, the first day of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto’s four-day visit to China.

Hashimoto, who arrived in Beijing earlier in the day, joined Chinese Premier Li Peng in a signing ceremony to officially approve the aid deal, which culminated at the end of two hours and 20 minutes of talks between the two leaders. The 202.9 billion yen credit line is part of Japan’s fourth low-interest yen loan package to China. The loan packages were initiated in fiscal 1996 on a five-year schedule and will amount overall to 580 billion yen for environment protection and economic modernization.

China has recently expressed its anger at the secrecy with which the review of the 1978 Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines is being conducted, and especially at the hinted scope of Japanese military obligations in the event emergencies happen in “areas surrounding Japan.”

Seiroku Kajiyama, the chief government spokesman and chief Cabinet Secretary, suggested in remarks last month that the geographical scope would include the Taiwan Strait. But Tokyo later replied that the “areas surrounding Japan” phrase does not refer to a geographical concept.

Hashimoto is the first Japanese prime minister to visit China since Tomiichi Murayama visited in May 1995. He will meet President Jiang Zemin and other Chinese leaders Sept. 5.

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