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Japan Naturalizes Victor Aritomi

July 18, 2001

TOKYO (AP) _ The Japanese government has granted citizenship to the brother-in-law of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, increasing the chances that he won’t be sent to Lima to face corruption charges.

Japan on Tuesday naturalized Victor Aritomi, a former ambassador to Tokyo whom Peruvian prosecutors believe was involved in an illegal money transfer by Fujimori, Japan’s Ministry of Justice said Wednesday.

Japan had announced in December that Fujimori, who fled to Japan, held Japanese citizenship. Japan has no extradition treaty with Peru, and has said it has no intention of sending Fujimori back.

Aritomi formerly held citizenship in Japan but canceled it about 10 years ago to become Peru’s envoy to Tokyo.

Peru’s embassy in Tokyo said it did not immediately protest Aritomi’s naturalization. However, embassy officials said they were baffled by Tokyo’s decision because Lima issued an international arrest warrant this month against Aritomi.

In Lima, Peruvian congressman Luis Solari told local radio station CPN on Wednesday that ``Japan has become an accomplice to criminals.″

Peruvian prosecutors suspect Aritomi was involved in the illegal transfer of $15 million of public funds sent by Fujimori to former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos late last year as an incentive for Montesinos to leave his post.

Aritomi reportedly helped Fujimori _ who fled to Japan last year _ handle several suitcases stuffed with cash from an unknown source to replace the missing funds to the government coffers.

The Justice Ministry also said that a woman named Rosa Aritomi was granted nationality Tuesday. Peru’s embassy identified her as Aritomi’s wife and Fujimori’s sister.

Fujimori is under investigation in Peru for his ties to Montesinos and for alleged links to a paramilitary death squad. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Aritomi could not immediately be reached for comment.

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