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Jenkins' condition not serious; stress main cause for concern

Accused U.S. Army deserter Charles Jenkins’ illness is not serious, but he will need to stay hospitalized due to severe stress, his doctor said Friday.

Jenkins, the American husband of repatriated Pyongyang abductee Hitomi Soga, was transported to Tokyo from Jakarta on Sunday as “an emergency and humanitarian” measure by the Japanese government, which had arranged for his family reunion in Indonesia.

He is being treated at Tokyo Women’s Medical University Hospital in Shinjuku Ward.

Government sources had hinted that Jenkins might need an operation for cancer.

But the hospital said the possibility of a grave disease is “extremely small.”

Atsushi Nagai, the doctor in charge of Jenkins, said North Korean doctors had indicated the possibility of a “grave illness” when they operated on Jenkins’ prostate in April.

Jenkins is wanted by U.S. authorities and faces possible court-martial. The U.S. government said it would seek custody of Jenkins if he came to Japan.

Washington has refrained from asking Japan for an immediate handover of Jenkins out of consideration for his health, in line with a request by Tokyo.

Nagai declined comment on Jenkins’ condition, including how long he would need to be hospitalized, citing privacy concerns.

He said Jenkins has suffered mental stress from dealing with his situation and “cannot immediately return to ordinary life.”

“We need to stabilize his mental condition,” he told a news conference Friday, the first to be held since Jenkins’ hospitalization.

Hospital officials said officials from the U.S. Embassy, including medical doctors, visited the hospital earlier in the day to be updated on Jenkins’ condition.

Nagai declined to say whether Jenkins’ is healthy enough to be interrogated by U.S. military authorities.

Soga walks in park

Repatriated abductee Hitomi Soga and her two North Korean-born daughters went on their first outing Friday since arriving in Japan last weekend.

The three visited Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, wearing blue ribbons, the symbol of the Japanese public’s wish to see the abduction issue resolved.

Earlier in the day, Soga visited Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi at the Foreign Ministry to thank the government for bringing her family to Japan and to seek its cooperation in resolving the fate of her husband, Charles Jenkins, an accused U.S. Army deserter.

Nephew denied access A nephew of accused U.S. Army deserter Charles Jenkins flew in to Tokyo from the United States almost a week ago — but is still waiting for permission from the Japanese government to meet his uncle, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The paper stated that James Hyman, a 43-year-old North Carolina firefighter, wants to meet Jenkins in order to convey a message back to the 91-year-old mother of the former U.S. sergeant.

Though Hyman has sought permission for a visit from the Japanese government, he has been told that Jenkins, husband of repatriated abductee Hitomi Soga, is unavailable while he undergoes medical tests at a hospital in Tokyo, the paper reported.

Hyman, who learned about Jenkins’ desertion charges at age 13, has been petitioning for clemency. The U.S. Army alleges that Jenkins defected to North Korea in 1965.

He sent U.S. President George W. Bush a fax every Friday morning for 10 weeks, claiming that his uncle had been abducted to the North and was not a defector, the journal said.

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