• Kyodo

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Repatriated abductee Hitomi Soga took her North Korean-born daughters Monday to her hometown of Sado, Niigata Prefecture, leaving her husband, accused U.S. Army deserter Charles Jenkins, at a Tokyo hospital.

It is the first time that Mika, 21, and Belinda, 19, have been to Sado. They arrived in Japan on July 18.

They will meet Soga’s father, Shigeru, 72, who was hospitalized Thursday for poor health. The trip is expected to last a few days, Sado officials said earlier.

Upon arriving at Ryotsu port shortly after 1 p.m. on a high-speed ferry, Soga was greeted by around a dozen former classmates.

Sado Mayor Koichiro Takano said the city is not planning any welcoming events due to the sensitive circumstances surrounding her father’s health and the U.S. determination to court-martial Jenkins for desertion.

The family has stayed in Tokyo since arriving in Japan from Indonesia. They were reunited July 9 in Jakarta for the first time since Pyongyang allowed Soga, 45, to return to Japan in October 2002.

Jenkins, 64, met with a U.S. military lawyer earlier this month and reportedly expressed his intention to seek a plea bargain. He is accused by the U.S. government of desertion, aiding the enemy, encouraging disloyalty and soliciting other personnel to desert.

The U.S. Army says Sgt. Jenkins was on a patrol along the Demilitarized Zone when he crossed into North Korea in 1965. His relatives in the U.S. reject that claim, saying he was captured by North Korea.

Soga and Jenkins married in North Korea in 1980, two years after she was abducted.

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