LIMA, Peru (Kyodo) — Peruvian President Alan Garcia apologized June 14 for his government’s persecution and forced emigration of Japanese and Japanese Peruvians to the United States during World War II, marking the first such gesture by the Andean country, according a diplomatic source.
The apology came during his speech delivered at a Japanese Peruvian hospital facility in the capital.
Mass immigration from Japan began in 1899, with many immigrants having achieved success in the following years prior to the war. But once Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the Peruvian government banned assemblies by Japanese and Japanese Peruvians, froze their assets and sent about 1,800 of them to internment camps in the United States.
Garcia is known for his friendliness to Japan, one example of which is his decision to stipulate a day of mourning after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit Northeastern Japan.
Although he is completing his term of office in July, Garcia is widely expected to seek re-election in the next presidential race in 2016, prompting speculation that his latest remark was aimed at currying favor with Japanese Peruvians, who have a measure of influence in Peruvian society.
Leftist Ollanta Humala, who won the presidential runoff earlier this month by defeating the eldest daughter of disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori, is set to succeed Garcia as president.