Still Wanted in Peru, Alberto Fujimori Runs for Office in Japan

Article excerpt

For most politicians, fame is an asset. But it's yet to be seen whether it will help Alberto Kenya Fujimori win a seat in Japan's Upper House on Sunday.

Mr. Fujimori reserves the distinction of being Japan's only Upper House candidate to conduct his campaign while under house arrest. He is the only candidate to have previously been elected president of a foreign nation. He is also the only aspiring member of the Upper House to have been indicted on more than 20 counts of corruption and human rights violations, including sanctioning death squads - charges he denies.

Fujimori was arrested in Chile in 2005, where he still lives under house arrest, awaiting extradition to Peru, the country he ruled from 1990 to 2000.

His critics accuse him of running for office in Japan to avoid his outstanding charges in Peru, but many Japanese voters don't even know he's running.

"If elected, he must really want to accomplish something here [to run in such a condition]," says resident Ako Nakatsu on a recent day in Tokyo's lively Shibuya district.

On his website, Fujimori vows to help Japan's counterterrorism efforts, resolve Japan's abduction issue with North Korea, and aid Japan in building friendly relations with Latin American countries.

"Politicians in Japan are all amateurs," says resident Hiroshi Kato, adding that Japan would benefit from Fujimori's strong Latin America ties. "We need experienced politicians like Fujimori."

WHAT'S hard for some here to believe, however, is that Fujimori's bid is legal.

Fujimori is a citizen of both Japan and Peru, even though dual citizenship typically is prohibited in Japan. Shizuka Kamei, acting leader of Fujimori's People's New Party, says Fujimori's Japanese residency is intact because he left using a Japanese passport and is technically "traveling in Chile. …