NIIGATA (TR) – Hitomi Soga, a one-time abductee of North Korea, on Monday thanked her late husband Charles Jenkins, who passed away earlier at the age of 77 earlier this month, for urging her to return to Japan from the Communist nation 15 years ago, reports Nippon News Network (Dec. 26).
“My husband was the one who most understood my desire to return to Japan,” wrote Soga, a 58-year-old resident of Sado City, in the message revealed on Tuesday.
In 1965, Jenkins deserted the U.S. military by entering North Korea from South Korea to avoid combat in Vietnam. He later married Soga, a Japanese national who had been abducted by North Korea in 1978 at the age of 19.
Soga, a native of Sado, remained in North Korea until returning to Japan with four other abductees in 2002.
“I was hesitant to go back by myself,” contained Soga in the message. “But he pushed me. ‘You should go back to Japan,’ he said. It is not an exaggeration to say that what he said is the reason I am living here now. I appreciate it very much.”
In 2004, Jenkins followed Soga to Japan with their two daughters, Brinda and Mika. Later that year, he pleaded guilty to charges of desertion and aiding the enemy. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
On December 11, Jenkins was found collapsed outside his residence in Sado. He was later confirmed dead at a nearby hospital due to an irregular heart rhythm.
In 2009, Jenkins received permanent residency in Japan. Until his death, he was employed in the tourism industry in Sado.