Koizumi to snub Toledo at APEC

by Reiji Yoshida

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi revealed Thursday he has turned down an offer to meet with Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit, which starts Friday in Pusan, South Korea.

“I don’t think we have time,” Koizumi said at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Tokyo, without elaborating.

This remark confirmed earlier media reports that Japan had rejected Peru’s request for a summit in Pusan.

Japan-Peru ties have been strained since the abrupt departure to Chile last week of fugitive former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who had been living in de facto exile in Japan since October 2000, when he faxed his resignation from the presidency from a Tokyo hotel. He was given Japanese citizenship and a Japanese passport after his arrival.

Fujimori had planned to run in next year’s presidential election, and his trip to Chile, where he was promptly arrested, was seen as the first step toward a political comeback.

Peru has requested that Chile extradite Fujimori, who faces 21 charges, ranging from sanctioning death squads to embezzlement.

Lima has protested Japan’s handling of the case, effectively recalling Peruvian Ambassador in Tokyo Luis Macciavello.

Despite his apparently tight schedule in Pusan, Koizumi does have time to meet with Chilean President Ricardo Lagos during the APEC meeting.

The Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday that Koizumi and Lagos will meet Friday to discuss such issues as those related to talks on a free-trade agreement and reform of the United Nations.