Alberto Fujimori's new life in Japan seems comfortable enough. (It sure beats the alternative.) From the windows of his new abode, a posh condominium in central Tokyo, he has enjoyed views of cherry blossoms. He's kept busy lately penning his memoirs and leading the dignified life of a retired statesmen on an extended working vacation.
Only he's not. Fujimori arrived unexpectedly in November and soon submitted his resignation as president of Peru--via fax from Tokyo amid a growing corruption scandal. The Peruvian Congress instead deposed him, prompting Fujimori to ask Japan if he could stay. (Fujimori's parents immigrated to Peru from Japan and he's a citizen.) Back home, he is now a wanted fugitive, facing charges of "abandonment of office" and accusations that he embezzled government funds. Last Monday a longtime opponent asked the Peruvian Congress to investigate whether Fujimori had links to a paramilitary death squad blamed for two massacres and other human-rights abuses.
The Peruvians have demanded the extradition of "El Chino," but Japan's Justice minister says Fujimori's citizenship protects him. Earlier this year Fujimori told TV Asashi that he was willing to cooperate with investigations, but only if the Peruvian authorities came to Japan. He also made it clear he has no plans now to return to Peru. In the meantime, Fujimori appears to be fitting in quite well. Last month he informed the press that he is now "used to living in Japan," is enjoying opportunities to refine his Japanese and has been meeting with local experts in various fields. He is even making new friends. One weekly recently carried a photo of him smiling and dining with Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and other opposition party members. With Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori stepping down under pressure and Japan in need of strong leadership, some in Tokyo have even begun to joke that Fujimori may be able to find a second career--as a politician in Japan.