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Featured Topic: Alberto Fujimori

Posted March 27th, 2008 by Shaun · 9 Comments

I know what you’re thinking. Who the hell is this guy, and why do asians supposedly like him so much?

Here are the facts: Alberto Fujimori, born on the 28th of July 1938 in Lima, Peru, is the former president of Peru, who served as Peru’s head of government for more than a decade from July 1990 to November 2000. Regulation statistics, until you realize that this guy is Japanese. Yes, you heard me right: a Japanese guy was President of Peru. (Yes, Peru, in South America, Peru.) He was effectively the first person of East Asian descent to be elected as the head of a Latin American (Spanish speaking) nation. I don’t know about you, but it seems the chances of Peru electing a Japanese guy as President would be equal to the odds of an Eskimo becoming the next president of China, or even a black guy becoming president of the USA. Hmmm, wait a second there”¦

Anyway, Alberto Fujimori was born to ethnically Japanese parents who emigrated from Japan to Peru in 1934. As many Asians know firsthand, that is the American dream”¦ I mean the Peruvian dream (well whatever it’s known anywhere else in the world). Regardless of any Asian’s personal opinions on the guy (if they even had any), his position was something all Asians envy. Isn’t it any Asian’s dream to succeed in a non-Asian land? This man did just that, coming from an ethnic minority (Asians only comprise of 5% of Peru) to run the entire country.

Could one see this as an endorsement for Asians to undertake mass-immigration to Peru, though? Quite possibly. Peru has the second highest amount of Japanese people (after Brazil) in Latin America, and the most people of Cantonese descent as well. Don’t pack your bags though, Asians are still massively in the minority in South/Latin America, as they are in most of the world, bar, well, Asia.

Fujimori gained the nickname El Chino or The Chinese Guy during his initial presidential campaign. Now before you chastise Peruvians for being so dense (regarding Asian nationalities), apparently Fujimori took it as an affectionate term, so it’s all good. However, who knows what else they were calling him behind his back.

Fujimori was not just a pretty face while in office as Peru’s head. (Here comes the obligatory, abbreviated history to the man in question). Among many other successes, he implemented what became known as “˜Fujishock’ which sought to tackle to El Nia!±o phenomenon, arrest Peru’s hyperinflation and restore the country’s global economy. He also performed a successful self-coup d’etat in 1992 to combat the threat by guerilla opposition blocking his attempted economic reforms, among many other sweeping transformations to his country.

However, Fujimori’s presidency has not been without controversy. His “˜Fujishock’ era was at massive social cost, crippling many lower-middle class Peruvians. His controversial self-coup may have been somewhat popular domestically, but was globally condemned by various nations. His supporters in Peruvian Congress passed a law allowing him to serve a third term in 2000 ( two is usually the maximum).

However, he was cited for various corruption charges and removed from office forcibly. He fled to Japan, but was eventually extradited from Chile to face charges in Peru and on the 11th December 2007 was sentenced to six years in prison among many other criminal sanctions. Eh, just like the life of any ordinary Asian, one would suppose”¦

Even though 4 out of every 5 Peruvians believe Fujimori to be guilty of the charges laid against him, he still enjoys immense popularity. I mean, if this man can remain popular with a public who believe him to be a criminal, then surely Asians can get behind one of our own, even though we don’t really know who the guy is”

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Tags: Culture · Environment · History · Japanese · People · Politics · Relationships · Social · Tidbits · Work

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 MK // Mar 30, 2008 at 3:12 am

    I was trying to educate a Korean friend (I am Chinese) about Fujimori and Peru the other day. I suspect that Peruvians — and many Latin Americans in general — have different views of race and national identity and ethnicity than we do in the U.S. I do not mean that those views are necessarily superior to ours, but they are different. I cannot imagine someone who looks like me becoming President of the U.S.A. in my lifetime, or maybe even my children’s lifetime.

  • 2 sy88 // Mar 30, 2008 at 7:49 am

    Pity you’re not black MK, you’re about to hit the jackpot there, if you are…

    As for a Chinese man becoming President of the U.S, hey hang in there, maybe not in your lifetime, but it will happen sometime. A hundred years, a thousand years, it will happen…

    Tell them 400 years ago that a black man or a woman could be in with a shot at becoming President and you would have been laughed at (or possibly have been charged with treason *shrugs*). Shows how far you guys have come…

    As for me, I’m Australian, and well, our Prime Minister is kinda Chinese. He’s a white guy, but he speaks the language fluently, majored in Chinese in university, lived in China as a diplomat, and surprised Hu Jintao with his ability to speak fluent Chinese at an APEC conference, I believe. So that’s pretty much as good, right?

    As for Fujimori, well I guess it’s not a matter of Peruvians having different views on race, I suppose he was just the right man for the job at the right time. The fact that he is Japanese does make the issue more interesting, however.

  • 3 dante // Apr 17, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    hmm fujimori manay persive him
    as a bad man but me being peruvian
    sort of see the good in him his done many
    good things for the country but like any other
    he has his faults look at bush started a war
    anyway i may not know much yet but
    i think he was a good president

  • 4 Latino2 // Apr 30, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    As a Latino, I view Alberto Fujimori first as a Latino and secondly as one of Asian descent. I know that runs contrary to the views of people down in the USA, but oh well; you’ll get the hang of things…….eventually.
    don Alberto proved his Latin-ness with his sensational divorce! Now that kind of public drama and acrimony is the exclusive domain of we crazy Latinos!
    Having the doors welded shut – brilliant!!
    Asians have been in Latin America since before the founding of the 13 colonies that later became the USA. The Manila galleons brought goods AND people.

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  • 7 James // Oct 16, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    He isn’t Japanese idiot. He is a Peruvian of Japanese descent. Let me guess you are a dumb American that is ignorant about other countries race and ethnic make up ? Am I right.

    “Asians only comprise of 5% of Peru”

    So? Jews only comprise 2.2% of the Untied States population idiot.

  • 8 mari // Aug 15, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    not only does peru have the second-highest asian population in south america, but lima, where all the power is, is highly asian-populated. nearly every person from lima i know (i am from lima) is at least partially asian (usually chinese or japanese). we allegedly have the largest chinatown in south america (i say allegedly, though, because i’m not quite sure). given that, in lima, it’s not weird that we had an asian president, at all. you’d have a harder time finding people who aren’t part-asians here, than those who are.

    and @ james, yeah, we would also consider him peruvian first, just like all of us other asian peruvians. we speak spanish, eat peruvian food, know peruvian culture, etc. i think americans have a bigger tendency to consider themselves something other than “american,” probably from being a relatively newer country ….

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