Japanese Aid Workers Leaving after Rebel Campaign Targets Them
LIMA, Peru (AP) _ Leftist rebels have stepped up attacks on Japanese aid workers in Peru, killing three, and Tokyo announced today that it is recalling dozens of its volunteers.
The attacks by the Maoist Shining Path are the latest twist in a rebel terror campaign against the government of President Alberto Fujimori, son of Japanese immigrants. One Peruvian-Japanese farmer also has been slain.
On Thursday much of the capital was blacked out after the rebels toppled electrical towers Wednesday for the second time in three days. The guerrillas on Wednesday also exploded at least two bombs in Lima, at the French cultural center and in front of an electronics store owned by Japanese Peruvians.
In Tokyo, the Foreign Ministry announced today that, save for a few administrative workers, all experts and technical personnel with the Japan International Cooperation Agency would be withdrawn.
″In the viewpoint of securing their safety, we have decided to have those in Lima return home temporarily,″ Foreign Ministry spokesman Taizo Watanabe told reporters. ″At the time, we have no alternative.″
He said about 90 people, including 52 aid volunteers, would be returning home.
Japanese sources in Peru said on Thursday that the volunteers would leave.
The attacks by the Shining Path appear aimed at inspiring Peruvian resentment against Fujimori, whose transport, health and fisheries ministers are also of Japanese descent. Sunday will mark his first anniversary in office.
The rebels also hope to scare off Japanese and other aid workers from Peru and block any foreign investment.
Canadian, Australian and Colombian aid workers have been killed in Peru during the past two months, but the Shining Path attacks on the Japanese were accompanied with particularly bitter, racist propaganda.
On July 12, guerrillas killed three agricultural engineers at a Japanese- funded experimental farm in Huaral, 40 miles north of Lima. The rebels destroyed farm buildings and machinery and scrawled anti-Japanese slogans on the walls.
On Tuesday, three rebels ambushed the car of a poultry farmer of Japanese descent and shot him several times in the face.
The rebels exploded a bomb Wednesday in front of an electronics store owned by a Japanese-Peruvian family. There have been at least four other such attacks against Japanese-connected businesses in the past month.
The Japanese Embassy and the Japanese Peruvian community center posted more guards, but Juan Kanashiro, a spokesman for the community, said Thursday: ″There is really very little we can do against this type of violence.″
Some observers say the racist attacks could backfire in Peru, where for the most part the Japanese are seen as hard-working and honest.
But many Peruvians of Japanese origins say the attacks are the realization of one of their greatest fears. Since Fujimori’s surprising election victory last year, the community has worried that popular anger at Fujimori would ultimately be directed at them.
During World War II, Peruvian mobs beat Japanese in Lima and looted their stores. More than 1,400 people of Japanese origins were deported to relocation camps in the United States.