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Alberto Fujimori: Peru ex-president was bright student who fought the odds

Parents were immigrants from Japan

  • By Donia Jenabzadeh, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 20:50 April 20, 2013
  • Gulf News

Alberto Fujimori, former President of Peru was born on the Peruvian Independence Day that is July 28, 1938 in Lima. He was the second of four siblings, born to the Japanese immigrants Naochi and Matsue Fujimori that originally came from a village called Kumamoto in southern Japan. Due to this, Fujimori had dual citizenship, Japanese and Peruvian.

Although his parents were Buddhists, Fujimori and his siblings were raised as Spanish-speaking Roman Catholics and attended Catholic schools. Growing up as Japanese in Peru was difficult as they often faced racial hostility, especially during the Second World War in which Peru sent a significant number of Japanese (Peruvian citizens) to the United States for imprisonment. Fujimori’s father fell victim for the opposition and had his shop confiscated by the government after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

Fujimori, Valedictorian of his high school class, was known as a bright student and in 1956 he achieved top score on the entry examination for admission to La Molina National Agrarian University, from which later in 1961 he would graduate top of his class with a degree in Agricultural Engineering. He then received post-graduate training at the University of Strasbourg in France which later got him accepted to a Master’s degree in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin in the United States. After having graduated in 1969, he was awarded honorary doctorates by the universities of Glebloux in Belgium and San Martin de Porres in Peru. He returned to La Molina’s Science Faculty to begin his teaching career at the Mathematics department. Later he would become the head of both the department and faculty and eventually in 1984 he was chosen dean of La Molina University. Other than that he was also elected chairman of the National Council of University Deans for a period of time between 1987 and 1989.

Fujimori started his political career in 1988 when a group of independent professionals founded the political movement Cambio 90, which stands for change.

The writer is a Gulf News intern

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