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. . . and Half a World Away, a Japanese Town Hails an Adopted Son’s Victory

<i> Reuters</i>

News of Alberto Fujimori’s victory in Peru’s presidential election brought people into the streets to celebrate half a world away in Kawachi, the small Japanese town where his father was born. Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu also welcomed the news.

But a Japanese government spokesman ruled out any special economic aid for the hugely indebted South American country just because its new leader is of Japanese descent.

“Our government does not take special measures on the grounds that a Japanese descendant has won (an election),” Nobuo Ishihara told reporters.

There was no such reserve in Kawachi, in the Kumamoto region of southern Japan.

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“Hundreds of townspeople gathered at the town hall early in the morning to celebrate Mr. Fujimori’s victory,” said Shunji Shimazu, mayor of the town that Fujimori’s father, Naoichi, a tailor, left in 1934 to seek his fortune in faraway Peru.

“They broke open a sake barrel and toasted the new president to cries of ‘Banzai!’ The whole township is now obsessed by the news of Fujimori,” the mayor said.

Shimazu said he immediately sent Fujimori a congratulatory message and put up banners at the town hall reading, “Congratulations, President Alberto Fujimori.”

A Peruvian flag and Japan’s rising sun flew together outside, he added. A street is to be renamed Fujimori Avenue.

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