Tokyo Denies Protecting Fujimori with \'Strategic\' Nationality
The Japanese government was not protecting disgraced former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori and did not contrive to find he holds Japanese nationality to help him, an official said Wednesday.
"First of all, the Japanese government is not protecting Fujimori," the foreign ministry official, who declined to be named, told AFP.
"We are only confirming a fact -- whether or not he has the Japanese nationality. We never strategically created a second nationality for him."
On Tuesday the Japanese government confirmed that Fujimori was Japanese because his parents, who emigrated from Japan to Peru in the 1930s, had registered his birth in the Japanese consulate in Lima in 1938 and submitted an application to retain the baby's Japanese citizenship.
The foreign ministry official's comments came amid signs from Peru that Tokyo's announcement could provoke a backlash against Japanese expatriates in Peru and Peruvians of Japanese descent.
Tokyo's decision caused embarrassment and consternation in Lima, with claims that Fujimori's dual nationality called into question the legitimacy of laws and actions taken during his presidency.
In Lima Tuesday, Sandro Fuentes, a lawyer who defended Fujimori in 1997 when rumours circulated that he was born in Japan, said Tokyo's revelation was stirring up anti-Japanese sentiment in Peru.
"Japan should take into account that its arguments for protecting a specific individual have an impact on the Japanese community in Peru," he said.
The sentiment was echoed by journalist Alejandro Sakuda, author of a book on 100 years of Japanese immigration to the Andean nation, who said ethnic Japanese merchants and business owners had reason to fear a backlash.
"The government of Japan could be instigating this and that is lamentable," he said.
There were 2,620 Japanese working in Peru, mostly expatriate company employees and diplomats, as of March this year, according to the Japanese foreign ministry.
In addition there are approximately 41,000 Peruvians of Japanese descent.
Japan has already been in contact with the Peruvian government to voice its concern about their safety, the foreign ministry official said.
"Regarding criticism against Japanese government and Japanese Peruvians, we requested through the Peruvian ambassador to Japan last Friday that safety of all Japanese Peruvians be secured," the official said.
Earlier Fujimori told AFP the confirmation he holds Japanese nationality made him "feel safer" as he believed himself under physical threat.
"My first reaction on hearing this news was that it made me feel safer, and better disposed to clarify reports which impugn my honor," Fujimori said in a written statement.
Given the "political persecution of which I am the object," acquiring Japanese nationality, without losing Peruvian citizenship protected Fujimori from "threats of physical harm", the ex-president added.
Fujimori, who has been in Japan since November 17, was sacked from the presidency by Peru's Congress on November 21.
He has since faced demands to return to testify to a congressional commission investigating allegations of massive corruption by his fugitive former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos.
Fujimori last week ignored a threat that an international warrant for his arrest would be issued if he did not comply with a subpoena from the commission and return to Lima by last Thursday.
He has said he would instead be prepared to tell what he knows about Montesinos from Tokyo.
"The fact that I have acquired Japanese citizenship does not mean that I am going to flee from speaking out and contributing to the clarification of the Montesinos case."
"The investigations must be seen through to the end," he repeated Wednesday -- TOKYO (AFP)
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