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Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 14:42 GMT
Husband wants Japan kidnap victim home
Picture released from Japanese magazine Syukan Kinyobi shows Charles Robert Jenkins, husband of Hitomi Soga, with their daughters Mika (left) and Belinda
Hitomi Soga has a family in North Korea
The family of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korea and now visiting Japan for the first time in 24 years, has appealed for her immediate return to North Korea.

In a Japanese magazine interview to be published on Friday, the woman's American husband and two North Korean-born daughters said they wanted her home so they could discuss the future.

Hitomi Soga with her father Shigeru, in Sado island, northern Japan
Hitomi Soga has not been able to speak to her husband
Hitomi Soga, who is one of five abductees visiting Japan, reportedly broke down in tears when she read the interview, which was carried out in a Pyongyang hotel.

North Korea has admitted kidnapping 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 80s to help train its agents in Japanese language and customs.

Hitomi Soga was a 19-year-old trainee nurse when she disappeared in 1978, with her mother, whose whereabouts remain unknown.

In 1980, Ms Soga married Charles Robert Jenkins, an alleged US army deserter who defected to North Korea in 1965.

Tug of love

In the interview for Shukan Kinyobi magazine, Mr Jenkins, 62, said he did not know his wife had been abducted until just before she returned to Japan a month ago.

If my mother is back we can go together to Japan on holidays

Hitomi Soga's daughter
The five kidnap victims returned to Japan on what was supposed to be a 10-day visit, but which Japan has extended indefinitely.

Japan is demanding the abductees be allowed to re-settle in Japan and for their North Korean families to join them.

The abductees had to leave their children behind in North Korea and have been unable to contact them.

The other four returnees are two couples, but Ms Soga's situation is more complicated because if her husband travelled to Japan, the US could ask Japan to extradite him for desertion.

Tokyo asked Washington to pardon Mr Jenkins, but no decision has yet been made.

Family dilemma

The couple's two daughters, Mika, 19 and Belinda, 17, are studying English at a Pyongyang university.

Megumi Yokota, a Japanese girl who was abducted by North Korean spies in 1977 and is reported to have died (AP photo)
Japan's missing
  • Taken in the 1970s and 1980s
  • Eight Japanese said to be dead
  • Five still alive in North Korea
  • The survivors have children in N Korea
  • Kim Jong-il says he has punished the culprits
    See also:

  • "If my mother is back we can go together to Japan on holidays," Mika told the magazine. "I want to see my grandfather and grandmother, but what I want now is for my mother to come back soon."

    When Hitomi Soga arrived in Japan last month she was quoted as saying she wanted to return to North Korea to discuss the issue of living permanently in Japan.

    More recently she has appeared to have mixed emotions, reportedly saying she wanted to be reunited with her family in Japan.

    North Korea on Thursday threatened to call off talks with Japan on security issues unless Tokyo returned the five abductees.

    In a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said Japan was creating "a new obstacle to an improvement in relations".

    Nuclear tensions

    Inside North Korea

    Divided peninsula

    See also:

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