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Alberto Kenya Fujimori Fujimori was the president of Peru between 1990 and 2000. He currently lives in exile in Tokyo, Japan, where he plots his return and broadcasts a weekly radio address, delightfully called "La Hora del Chino" (The Chinese Man's Hour, "El Chino" being Fujimori's nickname).

Every aspect of Fujimori's existence is controversial. Beginning in 1938, even the date and place of his birth is hotly debated by "fujimoristas", as his followers are known, and his detractors. Here are the facts:


Naoichi Fujimori and Matsue Fujimori left the port of Yokohama, Japan, in 1934. Alberto Fujimori's birth was registered by the Koseki, the Japanese family registry, at the Japanese Consulate in Lima, Peru, in 1938. His father registered the birth with the name of "Kenya Fujimori", with the date of July 28 in Surco, a district of Lima, Peru. Some have questioned this highly coincidental birth date--July 28 and 29 are the national holidays in Peru. Some charge that Fujimori's birth date and place were altered in order to make him eligible to be president.

However, According to Japanese migratory documents obtained by Peruvian newspaper La República, the couple did not bring any children with them. This finding should disprove the theory that Fujimori was born in Japan, which would have constitutionally denied him the right to serve as president of Peru.

However, La República also found an Imperial Decree stating that Japanese born in foreign countries who obtain foreign nationality lose Japanese citizenship. Thus, Fujimori should have technically lost his Japanese citizenship by not renouncing Peruvian citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. He should have lost Peruvian citizenship at the same time upon not revoking his Japanese citizenship, since the Peruvian Citizenship Law in effect between 1933 and 1993 did not permit double nationality, except in the case of Spanish-American countries and Spain.

This means that Fujimori illegally occupied the office of President during his entire term, since at no point did he renounce Japanese citizenship.

He is entitled to keep his Japanese citizenship, however: after 1945, the Japanese Constitution became legally superior to Imperial Decree. While Fujimori has every right to maintain Japanese citizenship, Japanese law does not allow for double nationality, which should obligate him to renounce his Peruvian citizenship. This seems unlikely, however, as he has declared that he plans to retain his Peruvian nationality in order to make his electoral comeback in 2006.


Fujimori graduated first in his class from the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, in the field of agronomic engineering. In 1969, he completed a master's degree at the University of Wisconsin. He married Susana Higuchi, with whom he had four children.

First presidency

Fujimori first ran for president in 1990, upsetting center-right neoliberal Mario Vargas Llosa with electoral promises not to implement "economic shock" and favorable images of a hardworking Japanese immigrant that connected with Peru's poor and disenfranchised. Before his election, Fujimori was contacted by a former Army captain, Vladimiro Montesinos Torres, who was expelled from the Peruvian Armed Forces for selling state secrets to the CIA. Montesinos helped Fujimori to "disappear" evidence that he had engaged in tax evasion, a key issue that previously hurt his credibility. Upon Fujimori's election, Montesinos was appointed chief of the National Intelligence Services.

Fujimori, who replaced Alan García's American Revolutionary Popular Alliance almost immediately implemented the "economic shock" policies that he had promised to reject. With growing pressure by the Congress and an intense campaign against guerrilla fighters underway, Fujimori conspired with members of the armed forces to stage an "auto-coup" on April 5, 1992, which abolished the 1973 constitution, dissolved the Congress, and reworking the judicial system.

In September of 1992, the Peruvian military and police captured Shining Path guerrilla leader Abimael Guzmán Reynoso, a massive victory for the Fujimori government.

The new "Emergency and National Reconstruction Government" got to work writing a new constitution, which was ratified in 1993. Among the changes was permission for reelection of the President, which the prior constitution had forbidden.

Second presidency

Fujimori beat former U.N. Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar in a landslide victory in April 1995. He quickly ended the border war with Ecuador, giving up a square kilometer of Peru's national territory. He also resolved century-old border issues with Chile.

In August of 1996, the Congress approved Law 26657, the "Law of Authentic Interpretation", which stated that the constitution entitled the president to a third term, classifying the second presidency as Fujimori's first.

On December 17, 1996, guerrillas from the Movimiento Revolucionario de Tupac Amaru, or MRTA, seized the Japanese Embassy in Lima. Hundreds of VIPs, who had been attending a party, were held hostage for months. After months of negotiations, several hundred of the weaker hostages were set free in exchange for food or water. However, Fujimori refused to cede to the demands of the emerritistas, and instead ordered a full-out raid on the embassy on April 22, 1997. One hostage, two soldiers, and all fourteen rebel soldiers were killed in the attack, which was filmed and broadcast on international television.

As time progressed, Fujimori's regime grew more dictatorial and corrupt. Vladimiro Montesinos, once a side figure, grew to assume absolute control of the government, and the executive power morphed into an entity that became known as "Montechino". In order to subvert democratic opposition, Montesinos bribed opposition congressmen to switch sides and had democratic activists from the Universidad La Cantuta kidnapped and assassinated.

Peru enjoyed great economic success as a result of the worldwide economic growth and trade-bolstering economic policy.

Fall from power

In the 2000 elections, Fujimori hired students to work day and night forging a million signatures for his candidacy. The government revoked the nationality of Baruch Ivcher, owner of the opposition TV network Frequencia Latina, thus denying his right as a Peruvian to own a Peruvian broadcasting company. The Fujimori government installed pro-establishment puppets at FL. It also illegally used state funds in the campaign.

On April 9, 2000, election results showed Fujimori losing to opposition candidate Alejandro Toledo Manrique 48% to 42%. Just two hours after the initial counts, the results changed dramatically, with 47% for Fujimori and 42% for Toledo.

Toledo led massive popular marches against what he called the Fujimori-Montesinos dictatorship, backed by international anti-corruption NGOs, electoral observers from the Organization of American States, and huge popular support.

A variety of so-called "Vladivideos", videos recorded by spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos in which he thanked the members of the armed forces for their help in the electoral campaign, bribed an opposition congressman and thousands of other definite pieces of evidence of corruption helped to bring down the Fujimori government. On October 29, Montesinos fled the country. He was arrested in Venezuela on June 24, 2001 and extradited to Peru.

Fujimori left Peru to attend an international summit in Brunei; from there, he went to Japan and announced his resignation on November 19. The Congress rejected his resignation and declared him morally unfit to rule on November 21, installing Valentín Paniagua Corazao as president.


I imagine Fujimori taking the subway around Tokyo and eating in sushi bars. He tries to start conversations with the people next to him in Spanish-tinged Japanese. Perhaps they recognize him, but they probably don't. He reads El Comercio online and has a special satellite hookup to get Peruvian channels. He laughs at the jokes about Toledo and wispy tears form in his eyes when he hears his name mentioned. A special chef prepares ceviche and chicha morada, but the ingredients aren't right.

He lives with a Japanese "companion", Satomi Kataoka, who takes private Spanish lessons. He is shielded and funded by members of Japan's elite, including member of Parliament Dr. Torao Tokuda.

After all, he was the first Japanese elected to head of state of a foreign country.

New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Feb 24, 2004. pg. A.3
New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Jun 28, 2001. pg. A.3

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