TOKYO, DEC. 19 -- The Japanese government is establishing a $375 million fund to promote cultural and intellectual exchanges between the two countries in a major effort to reduce American ill will toward Japan.

The fund, tentatively called the "Japan-U.S. Global Partnership Fund," was approved by Japan's legislature this week as part of the national budget. It will provide financing for a wide array of activities in which Americans and Japanese would participate, including seminars, conferences, joint research projects and cultural and social events.

The creation of the fund underscores the government's apprehension over simmering resentment that many Americans feel about Japan's industrial and financial success. The Japanese are unusually sensitive to what foreigners think about them, and they are concerned about the prospect of an anti-Japan backlash in the country that is both their biggest market and most important ally.

By sponsoring exchanges in which more people of both countries would become acquainted, the government hopes to erase the stereotype held by many Americans of Japan as a nation of robot-like individuals bent on conquering world markets. The fund will support activities "to heighten mutual understanding and friendship," a Foreign Ministry official said.

But while the new fund may help produce that effect in the long run, its creation is likely to evoke fresh accusations that Japan is using its financial muscle to buy influence in the United States.

The issue of the role that Japanese money plays in swaying U.S. public opinion has received considerable attention this year as a result of the recent publication of a book by economist Pat Choate. The book asserts that Japanese companies, industries and organizations spend an estimated $400 million each year on lobbyists, public relations campaigns and other activities aimed at deflecting criticism of Japan and its business practices.

Another Foreign Ministry official, however, said the government has no intention of using the new fund to buy influence. The official noted that the U.S. government also sponsors programs aimed at fostering international understanding, such as Fulbright scholarships.

"At the end of the {Second World} War, when Japan was very poor, many Japanese people were given a precious opportunity to study in the United States," the official said. "We are very grateful for this." Now that Japan has become prosperous, he said, it feels an obligation to mount a similar program.

The fund will receive 40 billion yen, or about $300 million, directly from the government and another 10 million yen, or $75 million, from the Japan Foundation, an organization closely tied to the government. Each year the fund will spend only the interest earned on the capital, which at present Japanese interest rates -- about 7 percent -- would mean that the fund's annual outlays will total around $25 million to $30 million.