Peru Withdraws Its Ambassador From Japan
LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Peru said Thursday it was withdrawing its ambassador from Japan to protest Tokyo’s response to Peruvian attempts to extradite former President Alberto Fujimori, first from Tokyo and now from Chile.
The move came a day after Japanese diplomats visited Fujimori at the police training academy where he has been held since he was detained on an international arrest warrant after arriving in Santiago, Chile, on Sunday.
The Peruvian Foreign Ministry, in a statement that was e-mailed to The Associated Press, said Lima was ``terminating the functions of Peru’s Ambassador to Japan Luis Macchiavello.″
A ministry official told AP that the ambassador’s withdrawal represented a strong protest but stopped short of breaking diplomatic relations over Japan’s refusal to extradite Fujimori before his arrest in Chile. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the diplomatic action.
A spokesman for Japan’s Foreign Ministry, Akira Chiba, said that Tokyo has not been notified of the decision to withdraw the ambassador.
Fujimori, a son of Japanese immigrants, governed Peru from 1990-2000 before fleeing to Japan amid a corruption scandal. He faces nearly two dozen criminal charges, ranging from alleged corruption and abuse of power to sanctioning a paramilitary death squad.
Fujimori said before going to Chile that he planned to launch a political comeback in his home country, which is holding elections in April.
He is recognized by Japan as a citizen and citing that fact, Tokyo had declined to extradite him to Peru, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.
Peru’s Foreign Minister Oscar Maurtura said he had met Tuesday with the chief of Japan’s diplomatic mission, Ambassador Hitohiro Ishida, and reiterated that Fujimori entered Chile last weekend using his Peruvian passport and that ``Japan lacks authority to intervene in the extradition process that Peru is pursuing with Chilean authorities.″
Maurtura said he also expressed ``the Peruvian government’s displeasure over the slowness and delay that Japanese officials exhibited with respect to the requests for extradition that the Peruvian government formulated without obtaining a reply.″
He noted that in comparison, Chilean officials acted quickly to detain Fujimori early Monday in Santiago, citing a 1932 extradition treaty between the South American neighbors.
Three Japanese Embassy officials met with Fujimori on Wednesday to assess his health and to check the conditions at the police training academy where he has been held since arriving in Chile on Sunday, Vice Foreign Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Thursday in Tokyo.
Shiozaki said Fujimori is ``in good health and seemed satisfied with his treatment, including meals,″ but expressed concerns about the safety of his family, who accompanied him to Chile.
Meanwhile, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos promised Fujimori will have a fair extradition trial.
In Lima, about 500 trade union workers marched to the Chilean Embassy on Thursday to demand Fujimori’s speedy extradition. The protesters played drums and chanted ``Yes, the killer can be booted out!″ and ``Do not forget, do not forgive!″
``Chile must hand over Fujimori,″ union leader Mario Huaman told The Associated Press as other protesters wearing Fujimori costumes danced in front of the embassy gates. Police guarded the embassy, but no violence or arrests were reported.
Relatives of victims of repression under Fujimori also gathered in Chile to follow the extradition trial.
``We have no doubts about the participation, responsibility and complicity of Fujimori in the assassination of hour relatives,″ said Gisela Ortiz, whose brother was one of 10 people killed in 1993 at La Cantuta University in Lima, one of two mass killings Peruvian officials say will be cited in the extradition request.
Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Eduardo Gallardo in Santiago, Chile, contributed to this report.