KAWACHI, Japan — People cried "Banzai!" and relatives laid out a meal of seafood and rice wine when Peruvian President-elect Alberto Fujimori returned Wednesday to his family's ancestral home, the sleepy Japanese town of Kawachi.
"It was an emotional and sentimental visit," said Fujimori, an ethnic Japanese whose parents left this town early in the century to seek a better life across the Pacific.
"The simple and frank reception I received reminded me of the kind of welcome I got during my election campaign in the villages in Peru," Fujimori told reporters at the end of a three-hour visit.
He went to Kawachi after two days of negotiations in Tokyo, lobbying Japan to resume official aid to his cash-strapped Andean country and trying to attract much-needed Japanese investment.
Peru has 2,000% inflation and a $19-billion foreign debt, and it is isolated from the international finance community because of its refusal to keep up full debt payments.
A bloody leftist insurgency and a large underground economy based on the production of cocaine are other problems likely to overshadow Fujimori's inauguration later this month.
But on Wednesday, he took some time off to visit family and friends.
At the home of his uncle, Tomiya Inomoto, Fujimori offered incense to his ancestors in front of a Buddhist altar. Then he sat on straw mats for a traditional Japanese meal of a huge raw sea bream and rice wine.
About 100 relatives gathered to catch a glimpse of the town hero, making his first visit to the ancestral home in 18 years.
"It's like a long lost son come home," an elderly woman said as she waited for Fujimori to arrive.
"It's a real historic day for us," said Yasuyuki Inomoto, 64, a neighbor of Fujimori's uncle. "We know of the many problems he will face, and we know we have ours. But today is celebration day."