An alleged US army deserter in hospital in Tokyo plans to meet a US military lawyer to discuss the charges against him, the Japanese government says.
Mr Jenkins is receiving hospital treatment in Japan
Charles Jenkins "said this morning he wanted to meet an independent counsel", said spokesman Hiroyuki Hosoda.
Mr Jenkins is accused of leaving his American platoon in South Korea and defecting to the North in 1965.
He arrived in Tokyo with his Japanese wife on 18 July, despite the threat of being extradited to the US.
Hiroyuki Hosoda, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, said Mr Jenkins' request to see a lawyer did not necessarily mean that he was ready to plead guilty to the charges against him.
"It is not a precondition that he will plead guilty and
plea-bargain," Mr Hosoda said.
"First he will learn about
what his legal problems are, what the issues are and about
the legal system itself, and learn how to handle those
The US has stated its intention to pursue a case against Mr Jenkins,
but has delayed demanding immediate custody in consideration of his
He is currently receiving treatment in a Tokyo hospital following surgery conducted in the North Korean capital Pyongyang.
The Japanese government, which wants Mr Jenkins to stay in
the country with his wife and North Korean-born daughters, has urged
the US authorities to be lenient with him.
The Japanese public is sympathetic to Mr Jenkins and his Japanese wife Hitomi Soga, who was abducted by North Korea in the 1970s.
She was allowed to return to Japan in 2002 with the other abductees. But Mr Jenkins remained in North Korea with the couple's two children, fearing he would be sought by the US authorities.
Earlier this month, the family held a dramatic reunion in Indonesia, which - unlike Japan - does not have an extradition treaty with the US.