Japan's foreign minister goes to Peru for hostage talks
December 19, 1996
Web posted at: 11:40 a.m. EST (1640 GMT)
In this story:
TOKYO (CNN) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda left
for Peru Thursday to take part in hostage crisis negotiations
while Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto set up his own special
Japanese television was providing extensive, live coverage of
developments as the nation followed the fate of about 400
captives held by Peruvian rebels at the Japanese ambassador's
residence in Lima.
"I will always keep the safety of the hostages in mind and do
my best to win their release," Ikeda told reporters before
leaving Tokyo. Technically, Japan is in charge of the
hostage situation because the embassy is under Japanese
Ikeda acknowledged that safeguards were less than perfect on
Tuesday night in Lima, when rebels from the Cuban-inspired
Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) invaded the
residence, disguised as caterers.
Japan targeted before
In 1991 and 1992 the Japanese embassy in Lima was one of
several embassies attacked by Marxist guerrillas. Leftist
guerrillas also claimed responsibility for three Japanese aid
workers shot dead in 1991.
Japan, a staunch backer of President Alberto Fujimori's
government, was chosen as a target "due to the constant
meddling of the Japanese government in Peru," the rebels said
in a message sent with a hostage released on Wednesday.
Fujimori, who is of Japanese ancestry, has provoked
extremists in Peru who claim Japanese aid and investment help
only the select few, and shut the masses out.
Because of the hostage crisis, Japan's Emperor Akihito, whose
upcoming birthday was the reason for the gathering at the
ambassador's house in Peru, has canceled all events that were
to take place in Tokyo on Monday to celebrate his 63rd
Reuters contributed to this report.
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