• Kyodo

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About 2,000 trees were planted Sunday in a ceremony near the Great Wall of China outside Beijing to mark the start of a bilateral tree-planting project that was the brainchild of the late Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, government officials said.

The ceremony was attended by the three secretaries general of Japan’s ruling coalition, members of a Diet members’ league and about 1,300 schoolchildren, according to the officials.

Japan has already contributed 10 billion yen to a fund for tree-planting projects in China to be used by private organizations of both countries, the officials said, adding that 170 million yen worth of trees will be planted at 23 locations across China this year alone.

China has been promoting the replanting of forests nationwide in the wake of a 1998 flood disaster along the Chang River that was blamed on environmental destruction. Within three years, about 180,000 trees are expected to be planted on some 60 hectares of eroding hillsides near the Great Wall, the officials said.

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