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Despite fears, Peruvians say little harassment in Japan

December 27, 1996

TOKYO (AP) _ Last week, vandals smashed the windshield of a Japanese-Peruvian grocer and the window of a shop selling Peruvian goods. But despite fears of harassment against Peruvians in Japan, those are the only incidents linked so far to the hostage crisis in Peru.

Peruvians living in Japan said Friday that reports of such harassment have been vastly overstated by the Japanese media.

Concern reached a pitch high enough to draw comment this week from Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who said Wednesday he was ``ashamed″ of acts of harassment against Peruvians in Japan.

The only two incidents reported so far both happened over two days last week in the same town in northern Japan _ Isezaki, a town 60 miles northwest of Tokyo that is home to several thousand Peruvians.

National police said they had not heard of other incidents. Local media said the Peruvian Embassy received some crank calls.

Pablo Lores, a Peruvian who is editor of a Spanish-language weekly newspaper in Japan, said he believes the two incidents in Isezaki are isolated. He has not received any other reports of harassment.

``We are a little worried because the Japanese media has overstated these facts as if this were happening all over the country,″ Lores said through an interpreter. He also said he has received many calls from media in Peru who are under the mistaken impression that there has been a rash of incidents across Japan.

Lores said Peruvians living in Japan fear that Japanese opinion of their country might be marred by the seizure of hostages at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima, Peru. But he said they do not feel that resentment has been growing against them.

Some Japanese tabloid newspapers have run stories on the Isezaki incidents with screaming headlines, a common practice.

``We won’t allow it! Even though there’s no connection with the guerrilla incident, harassment continues in Isezaki city!″ read a recent headline in Sports Nippon, a mass-market tabloid.

Michiko Minato, an official at IPC Network, a Spanish-language TV channel in Japan, said her station had not received any other reports of harassment or intimidation of Peruvians.

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