Japanese officials say a former U.S. Army soldier who deserted to North Korea 40 years ago is preparing to visit his elderly mother in the United States "soon."

Japanese media say Charles Jenkins will travel as early as next week to the southeastern U.S. state of North Carolina, to see his 91-year-old mother, who lives in a nursing home.

Jenkins has been living on a Japanese island with his wife and two daughters since his court-martial last November. He told Army officials he deserted to avoid serving in Vietnam.

Jenkins married Hitomi Soga, a Japanese woman who was kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1978 to train spies.

Ms. Soga was allowed to return home in 2002. The family was reunited last year.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.