Defense of Pyongyang confuses brother

The brother of Kaoru Hasuike, who was abducted by North Korean agents in 1978 and is on his first visit to Japan in 24 years, is bewildered by his defense of the communist state, relatives say.

Despite the joy of their first meeting in nearly a quarter of a century, Toru Hasuike, 47, is confused by the behavior of his 45-year-old brother, who maintains he is being treated well in North Korea and has never been persecuted.

According to relatives, the brothers used to do everything together before Kaoru was snatched by North Korean agents, and Toru had expressed hope before they were reunited Tuesday that his younger brother had not changed over the years.

But those hopes seem to have been dashed, they said.

On the morning after his arrival in Tokyo, Kaoru woke up Toru at his room in a hotel, insisting that TV reports about Megumi Yokota, one of at least 13 Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea between 1977 and 1983, contained “wrong information.”

After coming close to demanding a correction from the broadcasters, Kaoru reportedly tried to contact two North Korean Red Cross officials who had accompanied him and four other surviving abductees to Japan.

Toru’s distrust of his brother increased when he asked about the 1987 terrorist bombing of a Korean Air jet that was subsequently linked to North Korean agents and resulted in the deaths of more than 100 people. Kaoru insisted the North Korea link was fabricated and refused to talk about political topics.

“There are incomprehensible points and (Kaoru) does not tell the truth,” Toru later told a press conference with his brother in Tokyo.

Since 1997, Toru has served as a key member of a group of relatives campaigning on behalf of Japanese nationals taken to North Korea. He has often taken a hardline stance in the group’s negotiations with the Japanese government over the issue.

Kaoru brought nearly 100 photographs from North Korea with him and told relatives that he leads a comfortable life with his wife, Yukiko Okudo, and their children there. But Toru did not seem happy, his relatives said, and suspects his brother was trying to show the high quality of life they have in Pyongyang.

“I have to re-educate him in two weeks, so please help me,” Toru reportedly told a friend Thursday when the brothers were drinking with old friends in their hometown of Kashiawzaki in Niigata Prefecture.

Defector fears arrest

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The American husband of a Japanese woman abducted by North Korean agents wanted to travel to Japan but feared he would be arrested by U.S. authorities for having defected to North Korea, sources said Friday.

Charles Jenkins, a former U.S. soldier living in North Korea, reportedly told authorities he wanted to accompany his wife, Hitomi Soga, on her return to Japan last Tuesday.

Jenkins, 62, is believed to have defected to the communist state in 1965 while he was a sergeant in a U.S. army unit deployed along the Demilitarized Zone, which separates North and South Korea.

Seeing his wife off at Pyongyang airport on Tuesday for her temporary return home, Jenkins reportedly told Japanese Foreign Ministry personnel of his conflicting emotions.

Soga, 43, is one of five Japanese nationals who were abducted to North Korea in 1978 and returned to Japan on Tuesday.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Jenkins met with Akitaka Saiki, deputy director general of the ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, and other Japanese officials before Soga boarded a chartered flight to Tokyo.

Asked by the Japanese officials if he wanted to go to Japan or travel with his wife, Jenkins replied it would not be easy due to his uncertain status, the ministry said.

He expressed a desire to visit Japan but was concerned that he could be taken into custody or face a military tribunal if he accompanied his wife.

The U.S. government has asked North Korea to hand over American defectors, including Jenkins, but Pyongyang has refused.

On Aug. 12, 1978, Soga was abducted along with her mother, Miyoshi, then 46. She was 19 years old at the time and working as a nursing assistant at a general hospital on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture.

The two were on their way home from grocery shopping when they were taken captive. Miyoshi’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Soga and Jenkins married on Aug. 8, 1980. They have two daughters, aged 19 and 17, who are students at Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies.