Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Term in office||1990-2000|
Alberto Ken'ya Fujimori (アルベルト・ケンヤ・フジモリ Aruberuto Ken'ya Fujimori, born July 28 1938), also known as Ken'ya Fujimori (藤森 謙也 Fujimori Ken'ya), was President of Peru from July 28 1990 to November 17 2000. He was the first person of Asian descent to become head of state of a Latin American nation; indeed, with the sole exception of Arthur Chung in the ceremonial presidency of Guyana, the first person of Asian descent to become head of a non-Asian state.
Fujimori was credited with restoring macroeconomic stability after the tumultous García presidency and bringing peace to Peru after many years of domestic turmoil, but he was widely criticised for his authoritarian leadership style, particularly after the auto-coup of 1992. In late 2000, in the face of mounting scandals, he left Peru to attend an APEC summit in Brunei and then continued on to Japan, from where he submitted his resignation by fax.
Alberto Fujimori was born in Lima to Japanese parents, natives of Kumamoto who moved to Peru in 1934. His parents applied to the Japanese consulate to keep the baby's Japanese citizenship. He trained as an agricultural engineer. Before being elected president, he was rector of La Molina National University , and later president of the National Commission of Peruvian University Rectors (Asamblea Nacional de Rectores), a position which he held twice.
A dark horse candidate, Fujimori won the 1990 presidential election with his new party Cambio 90 ("cambio" meaning "change"), beating the world-renowned writer Mario Vargas Llosa in a surprising upset. He capitalised on profound disenchantment with previous president Alan García and his APRA party. He also exploited distrust of Vargas Llosa's identification with the existing Peruvian political establishment, and uncertainty about Vargas Llosa's campaign promises for neoliberal economic reform. During the campaign, he was affectionately nicknamed el chino ("the Chinaman"). Most observers believe his Japanese descent benefitted Fujimori, as much of the population of the country is of indigenous descent, and his ethnicity helped set him apart from the Spanish-dominated political elites.
During his first term in office, Fujimori's economic strategy, which Peruvians dubbed the Fujishock, bore no resemblance to the vague, populist program set out during the campaign under the slogan: "Work, technology, honesty". Under the close tutelage of the IMF, Fujimori embarked upon tough and wide-ranging economic reforms – far more drastic than anything Vargas Llosa had proposed – resulting in Peru's much-needed reinsertion in the global economy, from which it had become estranged during the García administration. Spurred on by the IMF, Fujimori started an extensive process of privatisation, selling off hundreds of state-owned enterprises. Fujishock restored macroeconomic stability to the Peruvian economy and generated a brief economic upturn in the mid 1990s. His administration made sweeping changes to national laws to encourage foreign investment in extractive oil, gas and mining sectors. To be more friendly to foreign investors, the legislation gave new powers to “the competent sectoral authority,” or agencies that oversee mining and oil projects, to determine on a case-by-case basis emissions limits, toxic waste disposal procedures and other concerns, which had previously been set by specific guidelines under the environmental law. It also lifted prohibitions on developing energy and other projects that exploit non-renewable resources in protected areas, such as national parks, in the Andean highlands and the Amazon region. 
Because the APRA and FREDEMO parties controlled both chambers (the Chamber of Deputies and Senate) of Congress, thereby hampering his ability to legislate, Fujimori mounted an auto-coup (in Spanish: autogolpe; sometimes called the Fuji-coup, or fujigolpe) — that is, a coup d'état against his own government, on April 5 1992. He dissolved the Congress and called for elections for what was named the "Democratic Constitutional Congress" (Congreso Constituyente Democrático); Fujimori received a majority in this new congress, which later drafted the 1993 Constitution. He also set about co-opting the judiciary and curtailing constitutional rights with states-of-emergency and curfews, as well as enacting controversial "severe emergency laws" to deal with terrorism.
There was little initial domestic resistance to the auto-coup. An opinion poll carried out shortly thereafter indicated that Fujimori's decision to dissolve Congress and restructure the judicial system had a 73% approval rating. The economic and political situation was so poor at the time that for many Peruvians things could only get better. At the time, Fujimori's bold and risky economic reforms (the "Fujishock") appeared to be working.
International reactions to the auto-coup were negative. International financial organizations delayed planned or projected loans, and the United States government suspended all aid to Peru other than humanitarian assistance, as did Germany and Spain. Venezuela broke off diplomatic relations, and Argentina withdrew its ambassador. Chile joined Argentina in requesting that Peru be suspended from the Organization of American States. The coup appeared to threaten the economic recovery strategy of reinsertion, and complicated the process of clearing arrears with the IMF.
Even before the coup, relations with the United States had been strained because of Fujimori's reluctance to sign an accord that would increase U.S. and Peruvian military efforts in eradicating coca fields. Although Fujimori eventually signed the accord in May 1991, in order to get desperately needed aid, the disagreements did little to enhance bilateral relations. The Peruvians saw drugs as primarily a U.S. problem and the least of their concerns, given the economic crisis, Shining Path guerrillas, and an outbreak of cholera, which further isolated Peru because of a resulting ban on food imports.
However, two weeks after the auto-coup, the Bush administration changed their position and officially recognised Fujimori as the legitimate leader of Peru. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the U.S. agreed that Fujimori's coup may have been extreme, but they did not want to see Peru return to the deteriorating state that it had been in before. In fact, the coup came not long after the U.S. government and media had launched a media offensive against the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, or S.L.) rural guerrilla movement. On March 12 1992, Undersecretary of State for Latin American Affairs Bernard Aronson told the US Congress: "The international community and respected human rights organizations must focus the spotlight of world attention on the threat which Sendero poses... Latin America has seen violence and terror, but none like Sendero's... and make no mistake, if Sendero were to take power, we would see... genocide." Given Washington's concerns, long-term repercussions of the auto-coup turned out to be modest.
Fujimori himself claimed that the auto-coup was necessary to break with the deeply entrenched interests which were hindering him from rescuing Peru from the chaotic state in which García had left it, but critics say that he could never have implemented his drastic liberal economic reforms under a democratic government.
Later in the year, on November 13, there was a failed military coup. Fujimori sought temporary refuge in the Japanese Embassy.
In 1994, Fujimori separated from his wife Susana Higuchi (also of Japanese descent) in a noisy, public divorce, and he formally stripped her of the title First Lady in August 1994. He thereupon appointed their elder daughter First Lady. Higuchi publicly denounced Fujimori as a tyrant, and claimed that his administration was corrupt.
In April 1995, at the height of his popularity, Fujimori was re-elected in a landslide victory over Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations. His independent party won control of the legislature. One of the first acts of the new congress was declaring an amnesty for all members of the Peruvian military or police accused or convicted of human rights abuses between 1980 and 1995.
During his second term, Fujimori signed a peace agreement with Ecuador over a border dispute that had simmered for more than a century. The treaty allowed the two countries to obtain international funds for developing the border region. Fujimori also settled unresolved issues with Chile, Peru's southern neighbour, still outstanding since the Treaty of Ancón of 1883.
However, his re-election was the turning point in Fujimori's career. After several years of economic stability and less terrorism, Peruvians now began to turn to other concerns, such as human rights, freedom of the press, and the return to genuine democracy; they also started paying closer attention to the growing web of scandals surrounding Fujimori and his chief of the National Intelligence Service, Vladimiro Montesinos, which finally led to his downfall in 2000.
When Fujimori came to power, large parts of Peru were dominated by Shining Path. According to some estimates, by the early 1990s, more than sixty percent of the country was under the control of the rebels, in territories known as zonas liberadas (liberated zones), where inhabitants lived under the rule of the rebel groups and paid them taxes. When Shining Path arrived in Lima, it organized so-called paros armados, strikes which were enforced by killings and other forms of violence.
In the course of his two terms in office, Fujimori was credited by many Peruvians for ending the fifteen-year reign of terror of the Sendero Luminoso and the arrest of their leader, Abimael Guzmán. As part of his anti-terrorism efforts, Fujimori granted the military broad powers to arrest suspected terrorists and to try them in secret military courts with few legal rights. At the same time he armed rural Peruvians to form the groups known as rondas campesinas ("peasant patrols"), to which part of the success of the fight against terrorism was attributed.
Guerrilla activity declined from 1992 onwards, and Fujimori took credit for this development, claiming that his campaign had largely eliminated the terrorist threat. However, it was the intelligence work of the DINCOTE (National Counter-Terrorism Directorate) which led to the capture of terrorist leaders, especially of Guzmán. Critics also point out that to achieve the defeat of terrorist cells in various towns and cities the Peruvian military indulged in widespread human rights abuses, and the vast majority of the victims were poor highland campesinos caught in the crossfire between military and the guerrillas.
The final report of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, published on 28 August, 2003, revealed that, while the majority of the atrocities committed between 1980 and 1995 were committed by the Shining Path, the Peruvian armed forces were also guilty of having destroyed villages and having murdered campesinos whom they suspected of supporting the rebels.
The 1997 Japanese embassy hostage crisis, the major event of Fujimori's second term, was one of the last major episodes of terrorism. It began on December 17, 1996, when fourteen Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru (MRTA) militants seized the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Lima during a party, taking hostage some four hundred diplomats, government officials, and other dignitaries; the action was partly in protest of prison conditions in Peru. During the protracted four-month stand-off, the Emerretistas gradually freed all but seventy-two of their hostages. The government rejected the militants' demand to release imprisoned MRTA members and prepared in secret an elaborate plan to storm the residence, while gaining time by negotiating with the hostage-takers.
On April 22, 1997, a team of one hundred and forty military commandos, given the name "Chavín de Huantar", raided the building to free the hostages. Two commandos, one hostage, and all fourteen of the rebels died in the assault. Immediately after the breaking of the siege, President Fujimori visited the ambassador's residence to inspect the scene and speak to the former hostages. Images of Fujimori surrounded by liberated dignitaries and walking among the bodies of dead rebels were shown on television, and the successful conclusion of the four-month-long standoff was used to bolster his image as being tough on terrorism. However, the success of the operation was tainted by subsequent revelations that at least three and possibly eight of the rebels had been summararily executed by the commandos after surrendering. In 2002, the case was taken up by public prosecutors, but the Peruvian Supreme Court ruled that the military tribunals had jurisdiction. A military court later absolved them of guilt, and the "Chavín de Huantar" soldiers led the 2004 military parade. In response, MRTA family members filed suit in 2003 at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights accusing the Peruvian state of human rights violations, namely that the MRTA rebels had been denied "right to life, the right to judicial guarantees and the right to judicial protection". The CIDH accepted the case and is currently studying it. 
Despite the questionable constitutionality of right to a third term of office , Fujimori declared his candidacy for the 2000 elections. He was declared winner of the May 28 election, amidst a flurry of accusations of irregularities. The main opposition leader, Alejandro Toledo, campaigned vigorously to have the election annulled, but the corruption scandal then emerging around Vladimiro Montesinos, who was the director of Peru's National Intelligence Service (SIN), did his work for him. The scandal exploded into full force when on the evening of September 14 2000, the cable TV station Canal N broadcast a video of Montesinos appearing to give a bribe of $15,000 to opposition congressman Alberto Kouri for his defection to Fujimori's Perú 2000 party. The allegations severely compromised Fujimori, who announced a new election on 16 September, in which he declared he would not participate.
On November 10, Fujimori won approval from Congress to hold elections on April 8 2001. On November 13, Fujimori left Peru for a visit to Brunei to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. On November 16, Valentín Paniagua took over as president of Congress after the pro-Fujimori leadership lost a confidence vote. On November 17, Fujimori travelled from Brunei to Tokyo, from where he submitted his resignation as president by fax. On November 19, government ministers presented their resignations en bloc, and on November 21 Paniagua became interim president to oversee the April elections, and the Congress declared Fujimori "morally unfit" to govern. 
After submitting his resignation by fax, Fujimori remained in self-imposed exile in Japan, where his citizenship as foreign-born Japanese was confirmed because his parents had registered him with the Japanese consular authorities in Peru as an infant, and he had not given it up under the 1985 citizenship law revision.
On September 5 2001, Peru's attorney general filed homicide charges against former President Fujimori. At the beginning of March 2003, at the behest of the Peruvian government, Interpol issued an international arrest order for Fujimori on charges that include murder, kidnapping, and crimes against humanity. In addition, the Toledo administration lodged an extradition request with the Japanese government in September 2003. Attorney General Nelly Calderón also travelled to Tokyo to argue Peru's request for Fujimori's extradition before Japan's judicial authorities. She detailed the charges against Fujimori to the Japanese authorities, and pointed out irregularities in the former president's dual Peruvian-Japanese nationality.
In September 2003, congresswoman Dora Núñez Dávila (FIM) denounced Fujimori and several of his ministers for crimes against humanity because of "forced" sterilizations carried out during his regime. According to Núñez, the Fujimori administration initiated a family planning program with extensive forced sterilizations in which health workers were given monthly quotas of sterilizations to perform.
On November 14 2003, Congress approved more charges against Fujimori. It voted 63–0 with two abstentions to approve charges, and to investigate how much he had been involved in the air-drop of nearly 10,000 Kalashnikov rifles into the Colombian jungle in 1999 and 2000 for guerrillas belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Fujimori maintains he had no knowledge of the arms-smuggling, and blames Montesinos. By approving the charges, Congress has lifted the immunity granted to Fujimori as a former president, and if he returns from Japan he can be criminally charged and prosecuted. An ex-advisor of SIN, Francisco Loayza, said documents exist which link Fujimori to the arms deal and claimed this information can be used to extradite Fujimori since Japan has signed international conventions prohibiting arms trafficking by civilian aircraft. According to Loayza, eighty such operations were realized during Fujimori's term in office. 
Congress also voted 65–0 with one abstention, to charge Fujimori for responsibility in the detention and disappearance of sixty-seven students from Peru's central Andean city of Huancayo, and the disappearance of several residents from the northern coastal town of Chimbote during the 1990s. It also approved charges that Fujimori mismanaged millions of dollars from Japanese charities to build schools, with an unexplained USD $2.3 million shortfall in funds received, among other irregularities.
In March 2005, it appeared that Peru all but abandoned its efforts to persuade the Japanese government to extradite Fujimori. Denise Ledgard, legal attaché of the Peruvian embassy in Tokyo and the person in charge of Peru's extradition request, returned to Lima and there were no immediate plans to replace her. Luis Macchiavello, Peru's ambassador to Japan, said, however, that his government would continue to push for Fujimori's extradition, possibly through multilateral organisations. In a report in the Financial Times, one official admitted privately that the process had stalled and that Lima had nearly abandoned hope of persuading Tokyo to relent. It also cited accusations of deliberate foot-dragging on the part of the Japanese in order to avoid international embarrassment at rejecting the petition outright. Several senior Japanese politicians have supported Fujimori, partly because of what they consider his decisive action in ending the 1997 Japanese embassy crisis. 
At the same time, the Unidad Financiera Estratégica y de Cooperación Internacional (UFEC ) of the Procuraduría released a report in which it calculated the illicit gains of Fujimori and his followers amounted to two billion dollars. UFEC claims that this money was removed from the country illegally, using methods that are currently under investigation. Walter Hoflich, head of the UFEC unit, said that 174 million dollars has already been recovered, but that this sum represents less than a tenth of the illegal earnings of Fujimori and Montesinos. The Office of the Prosecutor reports that it has located an additional 59 million dollars deposited in banks in the United States, Switzerland, and Grand Cayman, which it is currently attempting to repatriate.   The UFEC's figure of two billion dollars is considerably higher then that arrived at by Transparency International, an NGO that studies corruption. In its "Global Corruption Report 2004", Transparency International listed Fujimori as the seventh most corrupt politician of the past two decades, estimating that he had embezzled USD 600 million in funds.  
President Alejandro Toledo has, from the beginning of his presidency, taken up the case against Fujimori as his own, requesting that Japan return "the criminal Fujimori" to Peru. He has arranged meetings with other powers in Peru, such as the Supreme Court and tax authorities, in order to "coordinate the joint efforts to bring the criminal Fujimori from Japan".
Undaunted by the accusations and the judicial proceedings underway against him, which, citing Toledo's involvement, he dismissed as "politically motivated", Fujimori, working from Japan, has established a new political party in Peru, Sí Cumple to participate in the 2006 presidential elections. However, in February 2004 the Constitutional Court dismissed the possibility of Fujimori participating in those elections, noting that the ex-president was barred by Congress from holding office for ten years. The decision was regarded as unconstitutional by Fujimori supporters such as ex-congress members Luz Salgado, Marta Chavez, and Fernán Altuve, who argued it was a "political" maneuver, and that the only body with authority to determine the matter is the Jurado Nacional de Elecciones (JNE). Magdalena Chu, head of the Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales (ONPE), has also declared that the JNE is the only authority which can decide on the admissibility of Fujimori's candidacy.  Others however, such as Heriberto Benítez of Frente Independiente Moralizador (FIM) say the decision is "complementary" to the Congress's ten-year prohibition. In the opinion of ex-president Valentín Paniagua, the Constitutional Court finding is binding and "no further debate is possible".  
Fujimori´s new political party Sí Cumple, created at the begining of 2003, has been receiving more than 30% in many country-level polls, contending with APRA for first place. The general secretary is Carlos Orellana, Fujimori's former press advisor during his presidency. In addition, there are several other parties under the Fujimorismo umbrella such as Cambio 90, Nueva Mayoria, and Fuerza Peru. All of them have been certified to participate in the 2006 elections. . However, Fujimori has declared that the only "official" Fujimorismo party that will participate in the next presidential elections is Sí Cumple.
In March 2005, Fujimori supporters announced the launch of a soft drink called Fuji-Cola. According to a spokesperson, it is partly to help fund his re-election campaign. 
Fujimori remains a controversial figure in Peru. He is credited by many Peruvians for bringing stability to the country after the violence and hyperinflation of the García years. Peru was reinserted in the global economic system and attracted foreign investment; its international currency reserves were built up from nearly zero at the end of García's term in office to almost US$ 10 billion a decade later. The total GDP growth between 1992 and 2001, inclusive, was 44.60%, that is, 3.76% per annum; total GDP per capita growth between 1991 and 2001, inclusive, was 30.78%, that is, 2.47% per annum. . High growth during Fujimori's first term petered out during his second term. Arguably, much of the initial growth was simply recovery from Garcia's recession, at the height of which installed capacities were seriously underutilized.
While it is generally agreed that the "Fujishock" brought short-term macroeconomic stability, the long-term social impact of Fujimori's neoliberal economic policies is hotly debated.
Studies by INEI, the national statistics bureau show that the number of Peruvians living in poverty increased dramatically (from 41.6% to 55%) during Alan García's term, but they actually decreased a bit (from 55% to 54%) during Fujimori's term. Furthermore, FAO reported Peru reduced undernourishment by about 29% from 1990-92 to 1997-99.
Some analysts state that some of the GDP growth during the Fujimori years reflects a greater rate of extraction of non-renewable resources by transnational companies; these companies were attracted by Fujimori by means of near-zero royalties, and, by the same fact, little of the extracted wealth has stayed in the country.      Critics have observed Fujimori was able to encourage large-scale mining projects with foreign corporations and push through mining-friendly legislation laws because the post auto-coup dictatorship greatly facilitated the process. Peru's mining legislation, they claim, has served as a role model for other countries that wish to become more mining-friendly. 
Fujimori's privatisation program also remains shrouded in controversy. The sell-off of state-owned enterprises led to improvements in some service industries, notably mobile telephony and Internet. It also generated foreign investment in export-oriented activities such as mining and energy extraction, notably the Camisea gas project. However, a congressional investigation in 2002, led by opposition congressman Javier Diez Canseco, concluded that of the US$9 billion raised through the privatisations of hundreds of state-owned enterprises, only a small fraction of this income ever benefitted the Peruvian people; the rest remains unaccounted for.  
His critics say that his government became a dictatorship after the auto-coup, one that was permeated by a network of corruption organised by his associate Montesinos, who now faces dozens of charges that range from embezzlement to drug trafficking to murder (Montesinos is currently on trial in Lima).    While condemnation of Montesinos is nearly universal, Fujimori still enjoys a measure of support: a poll conducted in Lima in February 2005 gave him a 17% popularity rating. (President Toledo, at the same time, was averaging an approval rating of around 8%.) . A poll in March 2005 by Instituto de Desarrollo e Investigación de Ciencias Económicas (IDICE) indicated that 12.1% of the respondents would vote for him in the 2006 presidential election.  In general, those who support Fujimori tend to believe he was not implicated in Montesinos's actions; those who oppose him believe the contrary.
|President of Peru
Valentín Paniagua Corazao
- Fujimori's official website (in English, Spanish, and Japanese)
- Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Final Report
- Amnistía Internacional Perú Information on human rights abuses during the Fujimori era (in Spanish)
- Interpol's wanted poster for Fujimori
- A Profile of Fujimori by NNDB intelligence tracker
- CNN News Archive
- 2000 Profile
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