What's the Abduction Issue?

Individual Cases - 17 Abductees Identified by the Government of Japan

May 2011

Figure: Sites of abductions september 1977 ushitsu case october 1977 woman abducted in or around may 1980 two japanese men abducted in europe in or around july 1983 japanese woman abducted in europe august 1978 mother and daughter abducted november 1977 young girl abducted july 1978 couple abducted in or around june 1978 lee un-hae abducted august 1978 couple abducted june 1980 sin kwang-su case in or around june 1978 former restaurant worker abducted july 1978 couple abducted

The GoJ has identified the following 17 individuals as having been abducted by North Korea. (Age at time of abduction, sex, and location of disappearance are in parentheses.)

1. September 19, 1977: Ushitsu case

  • Abductee: Yutaka Kume (52, male, Ishikawa Prefecture)
  • Disappeared off the coast of Ushitsu in Ishikawa Prefecture.

North Korea denies all knowledge of Yutaka Kume having entered North Korean territory. The Japanese authorities issued an arrest warrant for North Korean agent Kim Se-Ho, the main suspect in this case, in January 2003 and listed him with Interpol. The GoJ demands that North Korea extradite Kim to Japan. In the Japan-North Korea Comprehensive Talks held in February 2006, the North Korean side asserted that it knows nothing of a Kim Se-Ho and has asserted that, if Japan provides all relevant information, North Korea will launch an investigation to identify him.

2. October 21, 1977: Woman abducted

  • Abductee: Kyoko Matsumoto (29, female, Tottori Prefecture)
  • Disappeared on her way to knitting class near her home.

The GoJ requested that North Korea provide information on her case at the 12th round of Japan-North Korea Normalization Talks held in Kuala Lumpur in October 2002 and at all three Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations held in 2004. During the third round of consultations, North Korea asserted that there is no evidence that Ms. Matsumoto had ever entered North Korean territory.

Since November 2006, when the GoJ officially identified Kyoko Matsumoto as an abductee, the GoJ has repeatedly demanded that North Korea immediately allow her to return to Japan and provide a full accounting of her case. North Korea, however, has not responded.

3. November 15, 1977: Young girl abducted

  • Abductee: Megumi Yokota (13, female, Niigata Prefecture)
  • Disappeared on her way home from school in Niigata City.

During the third round of Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations in November 2004, North Korea claimed that Megumi Yokota died in April 1994 and handed over what it claimed were her remains. DNA analysis, however, indicates that some of the bones from these remains belong in fact to a different person or persons.

Additional DNA analysis conducted in April 2006 by the GoJ indicated a high probability that Kim Young-Nam, a Korean citizen abducted from the Republic of Korea in 1978 when he was a high-school student, was married to Ms. Yokota.

4. In or around June 1978: Former restaurant worker abducted

  • Abductee: Minoru Tanaka (28, male, Hyogo Prefecture)
  • Disappeared after departing Japan for Europe.

The GoJ requested that North Korea provide information on this case at the 12th round of Japan-North Korea Normalization Talks held in Kuala Lumpur in October 2002 and all three Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations held in 2004. During the third round of consultations, North Korea asserted that there is no evidence that Mr. Tanaka had ever entered North Korean territory.

Since April 2005, when the GoJ officially identified Minoru Tanaka as an abductee, the GoJ has demanded that North Korea immediately allow him to return to Japan and provide a full accounting of his case. North Korea, however, has not responded.

5. In or around June 1978: Lee Un-Hae abducted

  • Abductee: Yaeko Taguchi (22, female, Unknown)

Kim Hyon-Hui, a former North Korean agent convicted of the bombing of a Korean Airlines jet in November 1982, claims to have been trained to blend into Japanese society by a woman named Lee Un-Hae. Lee Un-Hae is thought to be Yaeko Taguchi, a woman reported as missing in Japan.

North Korea asserts that Ms. Taguchi married Tadaaki Hara in 1984 and, soon after Mr. Hara’s death from illness in 1986, died in an automobile accident. North Korea has, however, provided no documents or evidence to support these claims.

At a meeting in March 2009 between members of the Iizuka family, relatives of Ms. Yaeko Taguchi, and Kim Hyon-Hui, important new information regarding the whereabouts of Ms. Taguchi (see note) was gained from Ms. Kim. The GoJ is currently working to confirm this information.
Note: Ms. Kim said: "After returning from Macau in January 1987, I heard from a driver in February or March that Ms. Taguchi had been taken to an unknown location. I'd heard that in 1986 an abductee living alone had been made to marry, so I thought that Ms. Taguchi must also have gone somewhere to get married."

6. July 7, 1978: Couple abducted

  • Abductees: Yasushi Chimura (23, male, Fukui Prefecture), Fukie Chimura (nee Hamamoto, 23, female, Fukui Prefecture)
  • Disappeared after saying they were going out on a date.

The two married in 1979 and returned to Japan in October 2002. Their daughter and two sons arrived in Japan in May 2004.

In February 2006, the Japanese authorities issued an arrest warrant for Sin Kwang-Su, the North Korean agent believed to be responsible for their abductions, and listed him with Interpol. The GoJ demands that North Korea extradite him to Japan.

7. July 31, 1978: Couple abducted

  • Abductees: Kaoru Hasuike (20, male, Niigata Prefecture), Yukiko Hasuike (nee Okudo, 22, female, Niigata Prefecture)
  • Mr. Hasuike disappeared after saying that he was going out and would be back soon. Ms. Okuda also disappeared after saying that she was going out.

The two married in 1980 and returned to Japan in October 2002. Their son and daughter arrived in Japan in May 2006.

The Japanese authorities issued an arrest warrant in February 2006 for a person known as Choi Sun-Chol, a North Korean agent believed to be responsible for their abductions, and in February 2007 also issued an arrest warrant for Han Myeong-Il (a.k.a. Han Geum-Nyeong) and Kim Nam-Jin, believed to be co-conspirators in these abductions. All have been listed with Interpol. The GoJ demands that North Korea extradite them to Japan.

8. August 12, 1978: Couple abducted

  • Abductees: Shuichi Ichikawa (23, male, Kagoshima Prefecture), Rumiko Masumoto (24, female, Kagoshima Prefecture)
  • Disappeared after saying they were going to watch the sunset at the beach.

North Korea asserts that the two married in July 1979, that Mr. Ichikawa died of a heart attack in September the same year, and that Ms. Masumoto died of a heart attack in 1981. North Korea has, however, provided no documents or evidence to support these claims.

9. August 12, 1978: Mother and daughter abducted

  • Abductees: Hitomi Soga (19, female, Niigata Prefecture), Miyoshi Soga (46, female, Niigata Prefecture)
  • Disappeared after saying they were going shopping.

Hitomi Soga returned to Japan in October 2002. Her husband (Charles Robert Jenkins, a US citizen) and two daughters arrived in Japan in July 2004.

North Korea asserts that Miyoshi Soga never entered North Korean territory. The Japanese authorities issued an arrest warrant in November 2006 for a person known as Kim Myong-Suk, a North Korean agent believed to be responsible for the abductions, and listed her with Interpol. The GoJ demands that North Korea extradite her to Japan.

10. In or around May 1980: Two Japanese men abducted in Europe

  • Abductees: Toru Ishioka (22, male, Europe), Kaoru Matsuki (26, male, Europe)
  • Both men disappeared while living in Europe in 1980. A letter postmarked in Poland and sent by Mr. Ishioka in 1988 to his family in Japan indicated that he, Mr. Matsuki and Keiko Arimoto (see 12 below) were all living in North Korea.

North Korea asserts that Mr. Ishioka and Ms. Arimoto died in a gas poisoning accident in November 1988, but has provided no documents or evidence to support these claims. North Korea also asserts that Mr. Matsuki died in an automobile accident in August 1996. In September 2002, and at the Third Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations held in September 2002 and November 2004, North Korea handed over remains possibly belonging to Mr. Matsuki, but analysis in Japan indicates that these remains contain DNA belonging to someone else.

The Japanese authorities issued arrest warrants in June 2007 for Junko Mori and Sakiko Wakabayashi (nee Kuroda), wives of Yodo-go members, who are believed to be responsible for these abductions, and listed them both with Interpol. The GoJ demands that North Korea extradite them to Japan.

11. Mid-June 1980: Sin Kwang-Su case

  • Abductee: Tadaaki Hara (43, male, Miyazaki Prefecture)
  • Disappeared in Miyazaki Prefecture.

North Korean agent Sin Kwang-Su has confessed to authorities in the Republic of Korea that he was responsible for the abduction of Mr. Hara. Japanese authorities issued an arrest warrant for Sin Kwang-Su as the person responsible for the abduction, and listed him with Interpol. The GoJ has demanded that Sin Kwang-Su be extradited to Japan, and in April 2006 issued a new arrest warrant that names him as the main suspect in this abduction case. Showing no willingness to extradite him to Japan, North Korea has instead honored Sin Kwang-Su as a hero. Japanese authorities have also issued an arrest warrant for Kim Kil-Uk, believed to be a co-conspirator in the abduction of Mr. Hara, and are working on the steps necessary to list him with Interpol.

North Korea asserts that Mr. Hara married Yaeko Taguchi in 1984 and that he died of hepatic cirrhosis in 1986. North Korea has, however, provided no documents or evidence to support these claims.

12. In or around July 1983: Japanese woman abducted in Europe

  • Abductee: Keiko Arimoto (23, female, Europe)
  • Disappeared in Europe.

The ex-wife of a Yodo-go member has acknowledged that she abducted Ms. Arimoto in cooperation with North Korean authorities. In September 2002, Japanese authorities issued an arrest warrant for Kimihiro Uomoto (formerly Kimihiro Abe), a Yodo-go member believed to be responsible for the abduction, and listed him with Interpol. The GoJ demands that North Korea extradite him to Japan, but North Korea has shown no willingness to comply.

North Korea asserts that in November 1988 Ms. Arimoto and Mr. Toru Ishioka died in the same gas poisoning accident, but has provided no documents or evidence to support these claims.