Letter to the Editor,
The Daily Yomiuri,
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8055
It might be suggested that Mr. Charles Jenkins, the American husband of Hitomi Soga, is a victim of reverse kidnapping. He made it abundantly clear to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi when the two met in Pyongyang a few months ago that he did not want to come to Japan because of his legal situation vis a vis the U.S. government, and yet here he is today. The Japanese media mimics the Japanese government's pronouncements about the wish of the Soga family to settle permanently in Japan despite the contrary claims made so far by Mr. Jenkins himself.
The July 20th story "Japan, U.S. face tough talks on Jenkins issue" provided a neat little chart diagramming the possible courses of Mr. Jenkins' future, beginning with his "arrival in Japan" and ending in the two options of "imprisonment," or "living permanently in Japan with his family." But what about the option of settling in the United States? Now that he is out of North Korea, if Mr. Jenkins is prosecuted under the American Uniform Code of Military Justice and acquitted, then he could return to America. Or, if he is convicted but the sentence is suspended and he receives a dishonorable discharge from the Army, then he could still return to America. The same is true, I think, if he is convicted but served some manner of minimal, or light sentence. There are still many options.
Why does the Japanese media blankly ignore the option of returning to live permanently in America? The whole family speaks English, and at the best of times the Japanese government and people are so hostile to foreigners on principle that I have to continually ask myself if he really wants to settle permanently in this country, with or without his family.
One thing that is certain, though, is that the government of Mr. Koizumi wants Mr. Jenkins to settle here permanently with Ms. Soga, and I get the feeling that it is working hard behind the scenes to force it to play out that way. Watching the reunion of the Soga/Jenkins family in Jakarta on television here, and then their departure for/arrival in Tokyo cushioned in the half-baked tale of a medical emergency, I could see and smell the fakery of it all straight off my TV screen! Most of what we have seen so far in the whole sad tale of the former abductees has been staged, and I get the feeling that Mr. Jenkins will be forced to settle permanently in Japan whether he wants to or not..
Published on Saturday, July 24, 2004 as “Jenkins being ‘kidnapped’ by Koizumi administration.”
It was a foregone certainty that once the Japanese abductees were in Japan for what was a negotiated visit that they would never return to North Korea as per the negotiated agreement. I don’t criticize it because it’s only right and fitting that they not return or be retuned by the Japanese government, considering that they were kidnapped in the first place by agents of the North infiltrating Japanese coastal communities. But at the same time we cannot sweep away the fact that their visit to Japan was a negotiated deal that provided for a return, so technically speaking we might talk about a reverse kidnapping. This time Japan re-kidnapping its own hostages, bizarre as that sounds.
Of all the abductee / returnees the case of Hitomi Soga was special because of her marriage to the deserter American soldier Jenkins and the fact that her husband and daughters remained behind in the North, almost certainly hostages against her return. Under the pretense of negotiating for Soga’s family to visit her in a third country there was certainly no serious intention by the Japanese of allowing any of the Jenkins-Sogas to return or be returned to North Korea once they were extricated. Again, I don’t blame Japan despite the ability to charge the Koizumi government of negotiating in noting but bad faith from the outset. I suppose the Pyongyang government recognized the inevitable all along and acquiesced to losing these hostages, but still the whole episode plays up the divide between what politicians / diplomats / governments say publicly and what they do. Not only that, it reveals that the politicians et al knowingly lie publicly. But again, in a case like this I don’t begrudge them. North Korea depends more than most on the fiction of words.
Once Jenkins was in Japan - or in the hands of the Japanese - I think he was deliberately used in a transparent manner for Japan’s own propaganda purposes, hence my suggestion that he was a victim of reverse kidnapping: add the way he was used and paraded in public to the fact that the government deliberately negotiated in bad faith for his release to ‘visit’ with his wife, Hitomi.