June 21, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Will Fujimori return to Japan?

Since November 2005, Peru's former president Alberto Fujimori has been living in Santiago, Chile (under house arrest for the first few months), after a failed attempt to return to Peru to run for president. The Peruvian government is in the process of filing for extradition to face corruption and human rights charges, and Chilean officials are dragging their heels. Now the Japanese People's New Party has offered to let Fujimori run as one of their candidates for senate in the elections to be held next month. Fujimori was granted citizenship of Japan after taking refuge there in 2000, and married a Japanese business woman last year. The Foreign Minister of Peru, Jose Garcia Belaunde, criticized this maneuver to avoid extradition. See BBC. I think I can see how this will probably play out: Peru is a poor country with a less-than-perfect legal system; Japan is a rich country in which bribery is almost universal. You do the math.

High-altitude soccer debate

Last month the International Football Federation (FIFA) voted to ban international soccer matches over 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level, which would leave out Bogota, Colombia, Quito, Ecuador, and La Paz, Bolivia -- almost all of Bolivia, in fact. Athletes from normal altitude places can be at a major disadvantage because of altitude sickness. Last week soccer officials from South America met in Paraguay, discussing how to react to this ban, which seems unfair to them. See BBC. When I traveled to Bolivia in 1985, I learned that soccer teams from foreign countries schedule their arrival for just a couple hours before the match begins, before the soroche takes effect. The symptoms get worse after several hours, and for some people it takes several days to get over it. The standard remedy is coca tea.