Those following the five-way diplomatic tug-of-war over the family of Hitomi Soga and Charles Jenkins probably know already that they’re…well, I was going to say “back in Japan, ” but only Soga herself had been to Japan before. What Jenkins feared, and the Japanese government tried to avoid, has happened: the US government has at least preliminarily made moves to have him extradited so he can be charged as an armed forces deserter. The initial family reunion took place in Indonesia–Soga flew from here, and Jenkins and their two daughters from the DPRK–because Washington and Jakarta don’t have a mutual extradition treaty (if that’s what it’s called).
But Jenkins has serious health problems and needs surgery that he had to come to Japan for, so he, Soga, and their two daughters flew in yesterday. NNN (the Japanese equivalent of CNN, sort of) followed their bus from the airport to one of Tokyo’s research hospitals as if it were OJ’s van. Atsushi, who’s home for the bank holiday weekend, glanced up at a close-up of the family’s caravan and deadpanned, “The government put them on a Mitsubishi Fuso bus? Great. At least they’re headed for the hospital already.”
The two daughters are 18 and 21, and much of the news coverage has focused on speculating what life will be like for them here. Me, I speculate that whatever happened to them would scramble their circuits. They grew up, after all, half-Japanese and half-American in an affluent family in North Korea. So both their parents were of intensely hated enemy peoples; their mother had been snatched from her home country when she was their age now. They were among the select families well-positioned enough to live relatively affluent lives in Pyongyang, and who knows whether they know what’s been going on in the countryside for the last decade or so. The people they meet in Japan may know more about the famines than they do. At least for now, the whole family is here. Now we just need to find out what happened to the half-dozen abductees the DPRK has coolly failed to account for.