Ousted Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori is definitely a Japanese national, Japan's government said Tuesday, clearing the way for his indefinite stay despite pressure for his return in Lima.
"We have confirmed Fujimori's Japanese nationality," Foreign Minister Yohei Kono told reporters.
"The Justice Ministry has notified me that Fujimori has Japanese nationality," he added.
"There is no legal problem for him to stay in Japan."
"We notified this to the foreign ministry yesterday," a justice ministry spokesman who declined to be named told AFP separately.
"We confirmed two points: one is that he has Japanese nationality, and the second is that has never renounced his Japanese nationality."
The government established that Fujimori, 62, the son of Japanese emigrants who also bears the Japanese name Kenya, had been entered into the family's ancestral register in his parents' home town of Kumamoto, southwestern Japan.
Fujimori's father notified the Japanese Consulate in Peru of his son's birth in 1938 and submitted an application to retain the baby's Japanese citizenship, Kyodo News reported, quoting government sources.
Fujimori had earlier said he did not know for certain if his birth had been registered at the consulate, but assumed it had as this was common practice among emigrants to Peru at the time.
The disgraced ex-president told AFP on Friday that he expected to use his Japanese nationality to escape "persecution" by political opponents at home.
But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda told a news conference that Japanese law did not allow the extradition of Japanese nationals.
"The government will respond in accordance with Japanese law," if it receives an request from Lima for Fujimori's extradition, he said.
Kono also noted that Japanese law does not allow for the extradition of Japanese nationals.
"If the Peruvian government demands his extradition, it would be difficult for Japan to respond," he said.
A spokesman for the Peruvian embassy here refused to comment on the government's decision, or whether Lima intended to seek Fujimori's extradition.
"We decline to comment, we have not had any contact with Fujimori," the spokesman said.
Fujimori also declined immediately to respond when contacted by AFP, but Justice Minister Masahiko Komura told a separate press conference that he had obtained Fujimori's consent to make the announcement.
The former president is potentially a key witness for a Peruvian congressional investigation into the activities of his fugitive former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, who is suspected of stashing 50 million dollars in Swiss bank accounts.
David Waissman, chairman of the congressional commission investigating Montesinos, had threatened to issue an international warrant for Fujimori's arrest if he failed to answer a subpoena and return to Peru by last Thursday evening.
Jose Ugaz, a Peruvian special prosecutor, has said there appeared to be enough evidence of criminal activity to justify a broad investigation into Fujimori's own dealings.
The Peruvian press has reported allegations that Fujimori had transferred up to 18 millions dollars to overseas bank accounts, charges he has strenuously denied.
Fujimori resigned on November 19 in a letter faxed from Tokyo, where he had stopped two days earlier after attending an Asia-Pacific summit in Brunei, after a bribery scandal involving Montesinos unraveled his controversial third term.
But Peruvian legislators voted to dismiss Fujimori on November 21 on grounds of "moral incapacity" rather than accept his resignation -- TOKYO (AFP)
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