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Friday, July 13, 2007
UPPER HOUSE SHOWDOWN
Fans hail 'hero' Fujimori's Diet bid
By MASAMI ITO
Disgraced former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's supporters hailed him as a hero as they took to Tokyo's streets to kick off his campaign in absentia for the July 29 House of Councilors poll.
Fujimori is running for a proportional representation seat on the Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party) ticket from Chile, where he remained under house arrest Thursday, awaiting a final decision by the Supreme Court on whether he should be extradited to Peru to face charges of corruption and human rights abuses, including sanctioning death squads.
Dewi Sukarno, widow of the late Indonesian President Sukarno and a well-known TV celebrity here, came out to show her support for her longtime friend, a Peruvian of Japanese descent who was granted Japanese nationality in 2000 when he arrived here after fleeing his country as his administration was felled by a corruption scandal.
"Mr. Fujimori is the pride of Japan and a hero," Sukarno told a crowd gathered in the Yurakucho district, where Kokumin Shinto leader Tamisuke Watanuki made the party's campaign kickoff speech.
Fujimori's wife, Satomi Kataoka, cried as she spoke of the ruling by a judge in the Chilean Supreme Court that Fujimori should not be extradited. He may be released from house arrest, but will probably have to remain in the country until the Supreme Court makes its final decision.
Fujimori "expressed his gratitude for the longtime support that the Japanese public has given him," said Kataoka, who lives in Japan. She and Fujimori married in 2006.
Fujimori "has his own battles in Chile, so I would like to do my best to support him" in the Upper House campaign, Kataoka said, adding, without elaborating, "I want to tell (the Japanese) his achievements."
The ex-president was arrested when he arrived in Santiago on Nov. 7, 2005. He had left Tokyo secretly on a chartered plane headed for Lima to prepare for a political comeback for Peru's presidential election the following April. He has been under house arrest since last month.
Kataoka told of visiting slums in Peru last year. She said the people gave her water and asked her to give it to Fujimori in Chile.
"That is when I became confident that what Fujimori had been doing was not wrong," Kataoka said.
Information from Kyodo added