Details provided on how Japanese abductees died

October 03, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

FUKUOKA, Japan - Japanese diplomats provided yesterday the first detailed accounting of the deaths of eight of their nationals who were kidnapped by North Korea beginning in the late 1970s and revealed that another missing Japanese woman was living and married to a U.S. military defector.

The reported causes of death, which ranged from suicide to automobile accidents and heart disease - for a woman of 27 - went beyond the vague, blanket explanation of "disasters and natural causes" provided by North Korea to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during his visit there two weeks ago.

But North Korea's new explanations of the deaths, to a team of Japanese diplomats who recently returned here, have been greeted with widespread disbelief in Japan. The information also appears to have aggravated political tensions surrounding Koizumi after his diplomatic breakthrough.

News of the U.S. serviceman provided additional information on a man the U.S. government knew little about, except that he was living in North Korea. According to Japanese diplomats, North Korean officials said one of the Japanese abductees, Hitomi Soga, had married U.S. serviceman Charles Robert Jenkins of North Carolina, who defected in the 1960s.

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