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Mexico, Peru criticize Japan's handling of Fujimori matter

MEXICO CITY—Mexico and Peru are expressing irritation at the way Japan has handled the case of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who claimed Japanese citizenship during his five years in exile in Tokyo.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said late Thursday that he'd filed a protest asking Japan to explain why it didn't notify Mexico that Fujimori's plane had a scheduled refueling stop in Tijuana en route to Chile.

Also on Thursday, Peru announced that it had withdrawn its ambassador to Japan, Luis Macchiavello, to protest a Japanese delegation's visit with Fujimori on Wednesday at the prison-guard academy in Santiago, Chile, where he's being held.

Japan's role in the Fujimori case has stirred Peruvian emotions since he faxed home his resignation during a state visit to Tokyo in 2000. Japan didn't act on two Peruvian requests for Fujimori's extradition.

Mexico's sensitivity is in part raised by questions about why Fujimori wasn't detained in Tijuana.

"We've asked the Japanese government to explain through diplomatic channels why we weren't informed of Fujimori's presence on national territory," Derbez said at a news conference. He said Mexico was aware that the international police agency Interpol had issued an alert for Fujimori, "but we didn't have time or the resources to carry out his detention."

In Tokyo on Friday, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs defended Japan's actions and said they were consistent with international treaties governing the rights of detained citizens.

Tomohiko Taniguchi said Japan's ambassador had contacted Chile's foreign minister Monday to remind him that Fujimori was a Japanese citizen. He said three diplomats visited Fujimori "in the place where he is being detained" to confirm "that he is in good health and is satisfied with his treatment, including his meals."

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(Knight Ridder Newspapers special correspondent Emi Doi contributed to this report from Tokyo.)

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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