Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori asked Japan on Wednesday to provide $300 million in untied loans via the Export-Import Bank of Japan to help his nation’s ailing financial institutions combat the region’s financial crisis.

The president, here on a five-day official visit through Saturday, made the request during a meeting with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Obuchi expressed understanding and said that the government will consider dispatching a research mission to Peru to assess the situation, the official said. The visit marks the centennial anniversary of Japanese emigration to Peru.

During their talks Wednesday evening at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Fujimori was quoted as saying he is very pleased to be in Japan both as a Japanese descendent from Peru and as the country’s president. The number of Japanese-Peruvians has increased to 100,000 since April 1899, when the Sakura Maru, a Japanese ship carrying 790 emigrants, landed in Peru.

Obuchi offered his gratitude for Fujimori’s efforts in resolving the hostage crisis in Lima in December 1996, when 14 Marxist rebels held more than 70 people hostage at the Japanese ambassador’s residence for 127 days, the official said. He also asked Fujimori to cooperate with the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization as Peru is a Pacific-rim nation. Fujimori said the Peruvian government will consider what it can do, the official said.

During the talks, the two sides agreed on a grant-in-aid for the construction of a hospital in Peru, worth 2.35 billion yen. The financial aid will be disbursed over the next two years, the official said.

Although the Peruvian government has made efforts to combat poverty, the country’s ill-equipped medical facilities have stymied such efforts. Fujimori had thus asked Japan to provide financial support for his social reform program, the official said. The Japanese side also pledged to provide another cultural grant-in-aid worth 17.7 million yen for the Peruvian government’s orchestra, the official said.

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