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Risking Extradition, Ex-GI Goes to Japan

The alleged defector is ill and his wife is popular among Japanese, posing a dilemma for the U.S.

July 19, 2004|Bruce Wallace | Times Staff Writer

Soga has become the symbol of one of the most emotionally potent political issues in Japan: the true fate of eight -- and possibly more -- Japanese abductees who the North Koreans say are dead. On Sunday, Jenkins' two daughters, Mika, 21, and Belinda, 18, wore prominent blue ribbons on their blouses, the Japanese symbol of support for repatriating the "missing" abductees. The ribbons replaced the North Korean badges they had been wearing when they boarded the plane Sunday in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

Meanwhile, Hasan Wirajuda, Indonesia's foreign minister, who met Jenkins at a private governmental reception in Jakarta on Saturday, told reporters there that he appeared resigned to some form of U.S. military sanction for his actions.

"Mr. Jenkins said he was not so sure about his future," the foreign minister said. "But as head of his family, he would be happy to see his two daughters would be reunited with their mother, perhaps at the expense of what will happen to himself."

There is a widespread assumption that the U.S. military will insist on debriefing Jenkins to hear any insights into the North Korean regime and whether other American soldiers may have defected to or been kidnapped by the secretive state.

If so, like the Japanese public, they will have to wait a little longer for a resolution to the strange, four-decade saga.

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