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North Korean Abductions of Japanese Citizens: A Timeline
[2018.10.18]

An overview of the key events over the years since the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Mike Pompeo, the United States secretary of state, visited Pyongyang on October 7, 2018, for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The two men reached an agreement to hold the countries’ second bilateral summit at the earliest date possible. In the talks, Pompeo also brought up the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 2002, five of the abductees were returned to Japan following the visit of Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichirō to North Korea that year. Then in 2004, eight of their family members rejoined them in Japan. Since that time, however, no additional major progress has been made. Here we look back at the key events over the years regarding the abduction issue.

November 1977 Yokota Megumi goes missing on her way home from junior high school in Niigata, Niigata Prefecture. (A string of abductions of Japanese occur from the late 1970s to the early 1980s.)
March 1997 Creation of the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea.
May 1997 The Japanese government declares for the first time the “strong possibility” that 10 Japanese, including Yokota Megumi, were abducted by North Korea.
September 2002 Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichirō visits North Korea. Then leader Kim Jong-il recognizes and apologizes for the abduction issue, whose existence he had denied for many years. Kim declares that eight of the abductees had already died and five were alive.
October 2002 Five abductees return to Japan: Chimura Yasushi and his wife Fukie, Hasuike Kaoru and his wife Yukiko, and Soga Hitomi.
May 2004 Prime Minister Koizumi Jun’ichirō visits North Korea again. The five children of the Hasuikes and Chimuras are reunited with their parents in Japan.
July 2004 Soga Hitomi’s American husband Charles Jenkins and their two children are reunited with her in Japan.
November 2004 Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations held in Pyongyang. North Korea hands over supposed remains of Yokota Megumi, but the Japanese government determines in December, based on forensic evidence, that the remains were not hers.
October 2006 North Korea conducts a nuclear weapon test. In response, the Japanese government imposes sanctions that include a comprehensive ban on imports from North Korea.
August 2008 Japan-North Korea Working-Level Consultations held in Shenyang, China. North Korea promises to reinvestigate the abduction issue.
May 2009 North Korea conducts its second nuclear test.
December 2011 Death of Kim Jong-il.
April 2012 Kim Jong-un formally becomes new leader of North Korea.
March 2013 North Korea conducts its third nuclear test.
March 2014 Parents of Yokota Megumi meet her daughter Kim Eun-gyong in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
May 2014 Japan-North Korea Intergovernmental Consultations held. The resulting Stockholm Agreement includes a promise by North Korea to reinvestigate the abduction issue.
January 2016 North Korea conducts its fourth nuclear test.
February 2016 North Korea announces its complete halt to the investigation of the abduction issue.
September 2016 North Korea conducts its fifth nuclear test.
November 2017 US President Donald Trump visits Japan, where he meets with family members of the abductees.
April 2018 South Korean President Moon Jae-in brings up the issue of Japanese abductees during the Inter-Korean Summit. In response, Kim Jong-un tells President Moon that he is prepared to discuss the issue with Japan.
June 2018 First United States–North Korea Summit held in Singapore.
October 2018 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits North Korea for talks with Kim Jong-un. The two agree to hold a second United States–North Korea Summit.
November 2018 or later Second United States–North Korea Summit (to be held in a neutral country other than Singapore).

Created by Nippon.com based on information from Headquarters for the Abduction Issue, Government of Japan, and media sources.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Five abductees return to Japan on an airplane chartered by the Japanese government in October 2002. © Jiji.)

  • [2018.10.18]
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