Asahi and JT on Alberto Fujimori’s J Diet candidacy, with commentary


Hi Blog. The Asahi of July 12 has run an editorial on Alberto Fujimori, wanted by Interpol on suspicion of murder and kidnapping, and his incredible candidacy for the Japanese Diet. The JT of July 18 reports that Fujimori intends to return to Japan if elected. Comments from cyberspace follow articles:


EDITORIAL: Fujimori’s candidacy
07/12/2007 The Asahi Shinbun
Courtesy of Claire Debenham

It is no longer unusual today for show-biz personalities and professional athletes to stand in elections for public offices. But we are surprised at the news that a former president of a foreign country will run for the Upper House election. Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, 68, decided to run as a proportional representation candidate of Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) for the July 29 election.

“I would like to show my gratitude to Japan, the home of my parents, by making use of my presidential experiences,” Fujimori explained.

A son of Japanese immigrants from Kumamoto Prefecture, Fujimori was born in Peru, where his parents registered him as a Japanese citizen at the Japanese Consulate. Fujimori holds dual citizenship, but this in itself poses no problem legally.

Shizuka Kamei of the Kokumin Shinto noted: “Including myself, Japanese lawmakers have become a pretty useless bunch. I want Fujimori to be ‘the last samurai’ who will whip them into shape.”

Fujimori was president at the time of the 1996 hostage crisis at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima. We presume Kamei and his party were impressed by Fujimori’s decisive handling of the crisis.

But we definitely do not think this is a good enough reason for anointing him as the party’s Upper House candidate.

In 1990, Fujimori became the first Peruvian president of Japanese ancestry. He rehabilitated the nation’s near-bankrupt economy and settled a century-old border dispute with Ecuador. These achievements are held in high regard by many. However, in the course of his long administration, a spate of scandals surfaced–corruption by his aide and repression of dissidents and human rights abuses by the military.

Yusuke Murakami, an expert on Latin American politics and associate professor at Kyoto University, said: “Fujimori was ensnared in Peru’s history of authoritarian rule by a handful of strongmen, and became part of that history himself.”

While visiting Japan on his way home from an international conference in Brunei in 2000, Fujimori was forced into resignation. He remained in Japan where he sought asylum. His exile, coupled with people’s memories of the hostage crisis four years before, made him a big name in Japan.

We presume this was what made Fujimori an attractive choice for Kokumin Shinto, a minor entity overshadowed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan).

But Peruvian authorities have an arrest warrant for Fujimori for his alleged embezzlement of public funds and involvement in the massacre of civilians during his presidency.

Fujimori was detained in Chile when he moved there two years ago in preparation for a political comeback. He is now under house arrest. The Peruvian government is demanding his extradition, and the case is currently being deliberated by the Chilean Supreme Court.

Fujimori is in no state whatsoever now to conduct an election campaign in Japan. There is even speculation in Peru that Fujimori is running for the Japanese Diet in order to escape extradition.

Even if he should win the election, he will hardly be in a position to attend Diet sessions. There will arise the question, too, of whether he should be allowed to keep his dual citizenship.

Fujimori ought to be seeking the trust of Peruvian voters, not Japanese. And we believe that he should show his gratitude to Peru, not Japan.

–The Asahi Shimbun, July 11 (IHT/Asahi: July 12,2007)

Click on article to see entire scan

COMMENT: Sloppy editorializing by the Asahi. Lots of topics glazed over here, and it’s not merely a matter of editorial constraint. A couple of examples that weaken their otherwise correct conclusions:

1) Fujimori wasn’t just “forced into resignation”. He quit quite flippantly, famously faxing his resignation from a Tokyo hotel room. That’s part of the lore of this man’s history, and it shouldn’t be portrayed with any possible “kawai-sou” bent.

2) Fujimori didn’t just “move to Chile”. He did an overnight runner. He went there surreptitiously and opportunistically, applying for a Peruvian passport in advance (and getting it, contravening Japan’s dual nationality issues), and then was arrested for his trouble at the Santiago airport:

Fujimori was arrested Monday, a day after leaving Tokyo. The 67-year-old former president secretly left Tokyo on a chartered plane, apparently seeking to prepare for a political comeback in Peru. Japanese Ambassador to Chile Hajime Ogawa claims Japan only learned of Fujimori’s passage to Chile via media reports. But Santiago believes Tokyo must have known about his plans before his arrival. Lagos also urged Japan to explain its position on protecting Fujimori as a Japanese national, with the former fugitive having entered Chile on a Peruvian passport.
“Diplomats visit Fujimori in Chilean jail”, The Japan Times, Friday, Nov. 11, 2005

I think Claire and Dave raise some other points well. From the Life in Japan list:

The editorial in this morning’s English-language Asahi criticizing Alberto Fujimori’s candidacy in the Upper House elections says in passing that

“Fujimori holds dual citizenship, but this in itself poses no problem legally.”

Is that because he was born before 1985, when the revised nationality law came into effect? I thought that strictly speaking, according to the letter of the law, even people born before then were obliged to choose one nationality and renounce the other, and that the Ministry of Justice was just turning a blind eye. If Fujimori is allowed to have dual nationality and run for the Diet, what’s the problem with dual nationality for people like our children?

Claire Debenham

You raise a good question, and one that I have been pondering a lot recently for various reasons.

A recent link posted either here or on “The Community” list (sorry, I can’t find it at the moment) provided an essay by someone who had researched dual nationality. In it, it said that there was no law strictly forbidding dual citizenship. Unfortunately, the essay was not complete, and so it lacked more detail.

But ultimately it means that there is a difference between criminal law, and rules and regulations about citizenship and immigration. Laws are codified and testable. Rules are at the discretion of the body making them.

One thing you have to keep in mind, and it is written in various places on various forms you see at the immigration office, is that the ministry in charge of nationality and immigration issues ultimately has the authority to decide who gets and doesn’t get citizenship or visas.

It’s like the sign on a restaurant door that says “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”. 99.99% of the time there are rules applied that can be readily understood by watching them in practice. But, there is also an undercurrent of discretion that can be applied at any time, to suit the needs of the management.

The bottom line is that Fujimori has been given special exception, and it does expose a lot of unfairness in the current rules.

However, his existence is also an opportunity, in that we can hold him up as an example to say “why is it that someone who is wanted for questioning in massive human rights abuses allowed dual citizenship, and yet I am not?”

The trick is knowing where and how to ask that question. Dave M G

Which means the Asahi editorial has left a major stone unturned–what the Fujimori Case means for definitions of citizenship in Japan. If anything, his should be the case which says that Dual Nationality is okay.

More feedback:
Jens wrote:
Let me actually make a
slightly controversial proposal, though I’m really
just wondering. We all know that Fujimori is a
controversial figure – he’s accused of human rights
violations and corruption. But from a positive point
of view, Fujimori seems to be an example of how
bicultural children can rationally share loyalty in a
way that many seem to think can’t exist. He acted as
president of Peru, and apparently worked hard in
defense of his new country (as well as for his own
pocket, obviously). But he also seems very capable of
taking a “Japanese perspective”. So maybe he should be
used as an argument in favor of allowing double
nationality. . .

That was my first reaction, too. Permitting dual nationality actually benefits nations, in terms of nurturing people who can create social, economic, and cultural ties. Not that Fujimori would be my personal poster boy, but still…

There’s a website here that has both the Japanese and English text of the Nationality Law, just for reference.

The crunch clauses seem to be Articles 12, 14, and 16.


Article 12
A Japanese national who was born in a foreign country and has acquired a foreign nationality by birth shall lose Japanese nationality since the time of birth, unless the Japanese national clearly indicates her/his volition to reserve Japanese nationality according to the provisions of the Family Registration Law (Law No. 224 of 1947).

Article 14
A Japanese national having a foreign nationality shall choose either of the nationalities before s/he reaches 22 years of age if s/he has acquired both nationalities on and before the day when s/he reached 20 years of age, or within 2 years if s/he acquired such nationality after the day when s/he reached 20 years of age.

Article 16

A Japanese national who has made the declaration of choice shall endeavor to deprive her/himself of the foreign nationality.

In the case where a Japanese national who has made the declaration of choice but still possesses a foreign nationality has voluntarily taken public office in the foreign country (excluding an office which a person not having the nationality of such country is able to take), the Minister of Justice may pronounce that s/he shall lose Japanese nationality if the Minister finds that taking such public office would substantially contradict her/his choice of Japanese nationality.


Fujimori’s parents registered his birth in their Japanese family register, so he meets the criteria of Article 12. But he neither chose a nationality by his 22nd birthday nor endeavored to deprive himself of the foreign nationality, AND he took public office in another country. So it looks as if, strictly speaking, the Ministry of Justice has sufficient grounds to deprive him of Japanese nationality.

My fear, I guess, is that if Fujimori were to get into the Diet his dual nationality would become an issue, and he’d be forced to renounce his Peruvian passport. At least that might open a debate on the issue, but if it ultimately resulted in a crackdown on other dual nationals that would be quite a negative outcome. Claire Debenham

Then the voice from the sky:


The Japan Children’s Rights Network website also has a section on citizenship that may have some additional information.

There is info and links to some MOJ descriptions of the choice requirement also. Does seem to be a requirement….

Even some historical info on amendments, courtesy of the Japan Supreme Court:

And finally another copy of the law itself in English. (Ill update the Japanese version soon after seeing your link Claire – very nice, thank you.) Mark Smith

Last word from me. More on what I dislike about the antics of Alberto Fujimori archived at, starting from:
Arudou Debito in Sapporo

1 comment on “Asahi and JT on Alberto Fujimori’s J Diet candidacy, with commentary

  • Although anything is possible with zealous bureaucrats, I think it is worth noting that involuntarily stripping a person of their citizenship by birth is not generally considered permissible under international law.

    Citizenship by naturalization can be forcibly stripped if it was fraudulently acquired, but generally speaking, a person is supposed to keep their citizenship of birth until they die or voluntarily relinquish it. There are VERY severe implications for civil rights if it is possible for a government to unilaterally terminate someone’s fundamental right to live and work in their homeland (part of the reason why we have the zainichi system).

    This does not really bind the Japanese government, but it indicates to me that they are highly unlikely to step in and actively remove the Japanese citizenship of someone who was legally born with it. The US has made this clear in their policy statements, even though US statutes indicate otherwise; Japan has been much more ambiguous about their policy, but I suspect it would have to be the same in practice. But again, this may just be wishful thinking.


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