• Kyodo

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Charles Jenkins, a 1965 U.S. Army deserter to North Korea who now lives in Niigata Prefecture, has been officially discharged from the U.S. military, paving the way for him to register as a foreign resident in Japan, local government officials said Friday.

Jenkins, 65, has said he hopes to live permanently on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture, the hometown of his wife, Hitomi Soga, 46, who was abducted to North Korea in 1978 and repatriated in 2002.

Jenkins received in late June a document, dated June 21, indicating the completion of his dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Army, officials said. He will shortly register as a resident with the city of Sado, they said.

Jenkins and his family last month visited his hometown in North Carolina, where he met his mother for the first time in more than 40 years.

He met and married Soga in North Korea and their daughters were born there.

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