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World News

Fujimori loses bid for Japan parliament seat

TOKYO (Reuters) - Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori lost his long-distance bid to win a seat in Japan’s parliament, Japanese media said on Monday.

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Fujimori, an ethnic Japanese, carried out his campaign for the seat in Japan’s upper house from house arrest in Chile. Peru has been fighting to bring him to trial on charges of human rights abuses and corruption.

The 69-year-old Fujimori, who has dual citizenship in Peru and Japan, was backed by the tiny opposition People’s New Party in his bid, which some Japanese human rights activists condemned as a tactic to avoid trial.

“My main objective at the moment continues to be to prove my innocence in the extradition case in Chile while I await the definitive ruling from the (Chilean) Supreme Court,” Fujimori said in a statement released in Santiago.

“Once the case is over, I hope I can re-engage with my political life and go back to working for the well-being of all Peruvians,” he added.

Media reports said Fujimori’s party, made up mostly of ruling party rebels, had won two seats but he was not elected.

Fujimori had offered to use skills gained during 10 years as Peruvian president to help Japan.

On July 11, the day before Fujimori started his campaign, a Chilean judge ruled he should not be extradited to Peru because Peruvian prosecutors had failed to demonstrate that he was involved in human rights abuses, including two massacres during Peru’s battles with Maoists in the 1990s.

Fujimori’s party had urged the Japanese government to intercede with Chile so he could campaign in Japan, but Foreign Minister Taro Aso turned down their request.

Fujimori fled to Japan in 2000 after his government collapsed in a corruption scandal. He stayed for five years but was arrested when he unexpectedly flew to Chile.

Many Japanese admire him for his handling of a four-month siege at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima in 1996-1997. His campaign poster showed him raising his hands in triumph when the siege came to an end.

“I could not campaign and the result was unfortunate,” Kyodo news agency quoted Fujimori as saying in Chile of the election outcome.

“Even though I was not elected, my feelings towards Japan have not changed. It was a good experience.”

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