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Japanese official development assistance for Peru has plunged sharply amid a chill in diplomatic ties over the fate of Alberto Fujimori, the former Peruvian president of Japanese descent.

The steep fall comes after a decade-long spree that began soon after Fujimori took office in 1990 and continued until he abruptly resigned his presidency in disgrace during a visit to Japan in the autumn of 2000.

Japan extended between 30 billion yen and 40 billion yen in ODA, mostly in low-interest yen loans, annually to the Latin American country during Fujimori’s reign.

Now as Peru’s current government persistently calls for Japan to extradite its favored son, it is finding Japan’s ODA tap has been squeezed tightly, if not turned off completely.

Indeed, the amount of Japanese ODA to Peru declined dramatically in 2001 to about 2 billion yen, with no yen loans being disbursed at all.

Of that figure, 500 million yen was in grants-in-aid extended to help Peru increase food production; the remainder was disbursed in the form of technical cooperation to invite trainees and dispatch experts.

Fujimori, wanted by Peruvian authorities on fraud and murder charges, continues to live in Japan.

He is allowed to do so as the Foreign Ministry has declared that he has dual citizenship and because Japanese law prohibits any Japanese citizen from being extradited to a foreign country with which Japan does not have a criminal extradition treaty.

Is there a correlation between Peru’s extradition demands and the reduced ODA figures? A senior Foreign Ministry official strongly denies any connection.

“Our basic policy of seeking to maintain and further strengthen friendly relations with Peru remains unchanged,” the official said, requesting anonymity. “It is true that the size of Peru-bound Japanese ODA has dropped dramatically since Fujimori quit as president. But it’s largely due to technical factors.”

The official went on to explain those factors.

“After months of political confusion that followed Fujimori’s departure from Peruvian politics,” he said, “new President Alejandro Toledo took office at the end of July after winning a presidential election. It took some time for his government to formulate its economic policy.

“Therefore, the Toledo government last year did not make many requests for fresh Japanese aid, based on economic policy, resulting in a sharp decline in Japanese ODA.”

Government sources also said many ODA projects that Japan agreed to implement with Peru under Fujimori, including construction of a multibillion yen Japan-Peru friendship bridge, have been either canceled or stalled unilaterally by Peru.

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