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Letter from Japan: Murky Politics
Expect to hear more about Japan's involvement with "Peruvian" Alberto Fujimori
By PETER McKILLOP

November 24, 2000
Web posted at 9:20 p.m. Hong Kong time, 8:20 a.m. EDT


Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori all but declared this week what he has desperately tried to keep hidden from his countrymen -- and what the Japanese government may have know about the whole time. Surprise, surprise, it turns out that Alberto may not be Peruvian at all.

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Fujimori, according to the Peruvian media, was in fact born "Kenya" Fujimori, in Kumamoto Prefecture in southern Japan. The Lima-based newspaper and opposition- leaning Liberacion on Wednesday printed a copy of his birth registry allegedly filed with the Japanese consulate by his late father. The register, which the Japanese government uses to document the birth, death, and marriage of Japanese nationals in Peru, appears to be a copy of the original sent to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

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Intelligence
The story behind today's news from the editors of Asiaweek

How convenient, if the reports are true. Because the Peruvian constitution bars the presidency to anyone who was not born in Peru, this could mean that Fujimori has been living a lie during his decade-long rule, and that the Japanese government has known about it the whole time. At any time, the Japanese could have blown the whistle on his true citizenship -- and he would have been out of a job.

Japan's ability to control the fate of Fujimori must have made the CIA green with envy. That, of course, assumes the CIA and the U.S. government did not know, which is highly unlikely given the close relations between Japan and America. What this means is that for a decade, the Japanese government and perhaps its strategic ally, the U.S., essentially had the ability to blackmail Fujimori on any number of issues.

The allegation that Fujimori is really Japanese comes as rumors continue to swirl in Japan about exceedingly favorable government assistance loans extended to Peru by the government of Japan. The story goes that since becoming President of Peru in 1990, Fujimori allegedly made annual pilgrimages to Japan's chief lending sources, and received billions of dollars in grants, export-import bank loans, and loans from the government Overseas Economic Cooperation fund. Suffice to say that had it not been for Japanese government loans, Fujimori's purported economic miracle in Peru would have never happened.

There is nothing wrong with Japan lending money to Peru for a good cause. But as most of the money ultimately finds its way back to Japanese companies contracted to build the roads, power lines and damns and other "nation-building" projects, Japanese politicians pay particularly attention to how these loans are doled out. If, it is true that the Japanese government knew of Fujimori's true citizenship, Japanese politicians could have had a field day creaming off the top of loans made to Peru without worrying about any complaints from their blackmailed client.

So don't be surprised if, in the coming months, there are some nasty revelations about how Japanese loans were distributed in Peru.

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