The government has demanded that North Korea send Charles Robert Jenkins, a former U.S. soldier married to a returned Japanese abductee, to Japan to treat his illness at a hospital here, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Friday.

North Korea informed Japan on Thursday that 62-year-old Jenkins has been hospitalized, due to fatigue.

“We are asking (North Korea) to provide us with details (about Jenkins’ condition), but they have not responded,” Kawaguchi told a news conference Friday morning.

Hitomi Soga, Jenkins’ wife, who is currently visiting Tokyo from her hometown in Niigata Prefecture, has told government officials that she wants her husband to travel to Japan and be treated here, Kawaguchi said.

“The government is dealing with the matter according to Ms. Soga’s wishes. We have already requested (that Pyongyang send Jenkins to Japan),” the foreign minister said.

Jenkins’ visit to Japan, however, would create another difficult international situation, as he is likely to face a U.S. Army court-martial for allegedly deserting to North Korea in 1965, while serving on the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone.

U.S. officials have indicated that Jenkins would have to face a court-martial if he comes to Japan. The government has requested that the U.S. treat Jenkins’ case as an exception due to the special circumstances, and no final decision has been reached.

Soga has expressed concern over news reports that her husband has been hospitalized in North Korea.

“I am worried because I have not yet received accurate information,” Soga told a news conference in Tokyo on Friday. “I trust the government with the matter.”

Soga said she bought coats and sweaters in Tokyo for her husband and daughters and asked the Foreign Ministry to deliver them to her family through diplomatic channels.

She said she wrote a letter to go with the clothes, expressing hope that they are well and her wish to see them as soon as possible.

Although Soga has expressed a desire to live in Japan permanently, she says she needs to consult first with her family.

“It is important for the family to live together, wherever it may be,” Soga said. “My hope is to live in Japan, but I am not sure until I meet with my family.”

SDP cuts troubling tie

The Social Democratic Party will freeze exchanges with the Workers Party of (North) Korea in the wake of Pyongyang’s admission that it abducted Japanese nationals and is developing nuclear weapons, SDP Secretary General Mizuho Fukushima said Friday.

Fukushima told reporters that the party will not send any more delegations to North Korea and also will not host any from that country.

The SDP, which was formerly known as the Japan Socialist Party, has kept up exchanges and friendly ties with North Korea’s ruling party since the JSP sent its first mission to Pyongyang in 1963.

SDP members of a multiparty mission pursued the abduction issue on visits to the North in 1997 and 1999 but accepted North Korea’s explanation that nobody had been abducted and that the missing Japanese would be investigated as “missing persons.”

Fukushima said her party made the decision because North Korea had lied about the abductions, as well as for its “irresponsible attitude” about its nuclear weapons program, which is in breach of an international agreement signed by Pyongyang.

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