Background Information On Alberto Fujimori

ByABC News
September 24, 2007, 5:45 PM

— -- Personal Background

Alberto Fujimori was born in Lima on July 28, 1938, to parents who immigrated to Peru from Japan in 1934. His father owned a prosperous tire repair shop in Lima, until it was confiscated by the government in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Although Fujimori's parents remained Buddhists, and his mother never learned lo speak Spanish, their five children were raised as Spanish-speaking Roman Catholics. Alberto attended a Catholic high school and earned an undergraduate degree from the National Agrarian University. He later earned a master's degree in math from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His continued educational pursuits led to his eventually becoming an agronomist. He became rector of the National Agrarian University and president of the Association of University Rectors. Fujimori also hosted a widely viewed political talk show on the state television station. Prior to being elected to the presidency, Fujimori's political experience was limited to his participation in two government commissions.

Fujimori claims to be descended from a Japanese noble warrior, and during the 1990 campaign for the presidency, he appeared at photo sessions on several occasions wearing a kimono and brandishing a samurai sword. Fujimori is estranged from his wife, the former Susana Higuchi. Her outspoken criticism of some of her husband's associates and her charges of corruption among some of Fujimori's advisors led the President to relieve her of her role as First Lady, and to ban her from the presidential residence. The couple have four children, and their daughter Keiko, who has been the most supportive of her father's political aspirations, has assumed many of the official duties vacated by her mother.

Rise to Power

An agrarian engineer with no political experience or even party affiliation, Fujimori initiated his bid for the presidency late in 1989, well after the other candidates had begun campaigning. Dwarfed by the expensive, splashy campaign of front-runner Mario Vargas Llosa, Fujimori's low-key, low-budget, grass roots organization went virtually unnoticed by analysts. In the first round voting on April 8, 1990, Fujimori and his Cambio '90 (Change '90) party came within two percentage points of Vargas Llosa. The run-off, set for June 1990, was considered by most to be a dead heat. On June 10, 1990, with no support from Peru's traditionally influential sectors, Alberto Fujimori soundly defeated Vargas Llosa, with 57% of the votes, becoming the first ethnic Japanese head of state outside Japan.