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FEATURES HOME

WEB-ONLY EXCLUSIVE
The Perfect Solution to Japan's Leadership Woes
Tokyo Bureau Chief Tim Larimer knows exactly the man for the job
By TIM LARIMER

November 24, 2000
Web posted at 9:35 p.m. Hong Kong time, 8:35 a.m. EDT


If no one has thought of this, I have the perfect solution to Japan's leadership crisis. Clearly Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori isn't smart enough, Koichi Kato doesn't have enough backbone and Foreign Minister Yohei Kono doesn't offer much pizzazz. So, whom or where can Japan turn to?

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Right in its own backyard, actually. There is someone well suited and available for the job. He is clever, decisive, and knows how to make headlines.Best of all, he has a decade of experience as a country's leader under his belt. Unlike the wishy-washy politicians in Japan, he has no trouble ruling with the iron glove of a dictator. He knows how to conduct politics behind closed doors, too, which prepares him well for the Japanese brand of democracy practiced by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Just look at how he quit his last job: By faxing a letter of resignation from overseas! I'm talking, of course, about Alberto Fujimori, Peru's despotic president who waited until he was safely in the confines of his motherland, Japan, before announcing to his other motherland, Peru, that he was quitting the presidency and not coming home anytime soon.

The only real practical hurdle to Fujimori entering politics in Japan is his nationality. When he ran for President in Peru in 1990, he assured everyone that he was a Peruvian, by birth, by citizenship, by blood. Now that things are looking a little shaky for Fujimori in Lima, we're finding out that he has been a Japanese citizen all along. He said, obliquely, to reporters outside the fancy Tokyo hotel where he had set up his new campaign headquarters, that his father, Naoichi, who immigrated to Peru in the early 1930s, had registered little Alberto's name in the family registry in their native Kumamoto Prefecture many, many years ago.

The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reported that a local official there confirmed this, but another official told us this week that nobody has confirmed anything to anybody. It would violate Fujimori's privacy to reveal if he is actually registered, said the second official.

The lack of transparency and murkiness over Fujimori's citizenship is all too typical of the way politics works in Japan. Like I said. He's perfectly qualified. So quick, find him an empty seat in Parliament. The man needs a job.

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