National

STRONG BILATERAL TIES CITED

Kawaguchi confident Jenkins case can be resolved

Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi expressed confidence Sunday that the case of Charles Jenkins will be resolved satisfactorily as Japan and the United States have a strong alliance.

While noting that the issue is a matter between the United States and the accused army deserter, Kawaguchi said during an appearance on NHK TV: “There are no bilateral issues that cannot be resolved between Japan and the United States. We have a relationship of (strong) mutual trust.”

Kawaguchi’s comments suggest her confidence that the matter can be resolved if Jenkins seeks a plea bargain.

Jenkins, the husband of repatriated abductee Hitomi Soga, has been accused by the United States on four charges — desertion, aiding the enemy, encouraging disloyalty and soliciting other service members to desert.

He is said to have crossed the border between North and South Korea in 1965.

U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker has suggested a plea bargain, and Japanese government officials have talked with Jenkins unofficially about the move.

Government sources said Jenkins has suggested he would take this route.

The Japanese government plans to arrange meetings for Jenkins with lawyers who are familiar with U.S. military trials, while taking into consideration his health condition, the sources said.

Doctors at a Tokyo hospital treating Jenkins have said he is not in serious condition but needs to remain in the hospital until he recovers from severe stress.

Once the government confirms Jenkins’ intention, it will promote talks with the United States over the issue, the sources said.

Meanwhile, Japanese officials said Jenkins’ family — Soga and their two North Korean-born daughters — will move to a Tokyo hotel on Monday from the hospital where they have been looking after him.

On Japan-North Korea relations, Kawaguchi said Japan hopes to hold working-level talks with the North by mid-August to discuss the abduction issue.

Japan is expected to urge North Korea to present an interim report at the meeting on its promised reinvestigation into the fate of 10 Japanese recognized by Japan as abduction victims.

Kawaguchi, however, was not clear on when to resume bilateral negotiations on normalizing diplomatic ties.

“We will consider a variety of things comprehensively, and we will resume the talks when it is appropriate,” she said

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