Tokyo must get the American husband of a Japanese former abductee to visit Japan no matter what the cost, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Shinzo Abe said Sunday.

“There would have been no abduction issue in the first place if North Korea was a country that values one’s will,” Abe said on a Fuji TV program.

“A country-to-country decision must be made, not involving (the American’s) own will, so that he can be brought here with his two daughters as Ms. Soga wishes,” Abe, a hardliner on North Korea, said.

The treatment of Charles Robert Jenkins, the husband of Hitomi Soga, 44, will be one of the most important issues for Japan when Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visits Pyongyang on Saturday to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

But as the United States lists the 64-year-old former U.S. Army sergeant as having deserted in 1965, Japan worries Jenkins may resist the idea of coming to Japan.

Tokyo has asked Washington to give Jenkins “special consideration,” including a pardon.

Stressing the importance of Japan-U.S. ties, Abe called on the United States to “make a big decision” over the treatment of Jenkins, indicating that negotiations between Koizumi and President George W. Bush are needed.

“We must tell the U.S. side the importance of Mr. Jenkins’ visit to Japan,” he said.

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