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Abducted: The Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea

How North Korea Abducted a Japanese Couple 46 Years Ago

Yasushi Chimura and his fiancee, Fukie, were cruelly abducted by agents sent by North Korea and forced to endure 24 torturous years in their captors' land.



Five abductees return to Japan on October 15, 2002, including Fukie Hamamoto and Yasushi Chimura (front center and right). (©Sankei)

Yasushi Chimura and Fukie Hamamoto (now Chimura) were abducted by North Korean agents in Obama City, Fukui Prefecture, on July 7, 1978. Their abduction appears to have been a "conditional abduction," targeting individuals who met specific criteria, such as being a couple. North Korea returned Yasushi and Fukie to Japan in 2002.

The abduction took place at the Obama Park observation deck while the couple was on a date. They had begun dating in March of that year through a mutual acquaintance. It was Tanabata (the Star Festival) that day, so they decided to go stargazing after dining at a restaurant.

According to the couple's testimony, as they were heading up to the observation deck, they overtook a group of four men. Once seated on the deck, they noticed the four men smoking near the base of the stairs.

The observation deck in 1988 of Obama Park, where Yasushi Chimura and Fukie Hamamoto were abducted. (©Sankei)

Attack and Capture

Not long after, the couple was attacked by the group. They were restrained from behind and forced into large bags headfirst. Fukie was carried over the shoulder by one of the men, causing her great pain. "The abductor's shoulder dug into my stomach with every step," she recalled.

Yasushi's testimony and other information later revealed that one of the abductors was Sin Gwang-su. This North Korean spy would go on to abduct Tadaaki Hara, a Chinese restaurant employee in Osaka, two years after the couple's abduction. A high-ranking operative, Sin was also implicated in the abduction of Megumi Yokota, who was 13 years old at the time.

Chimura Yasushi (right) and his wife Fukie appeal for the early resolution of the abduction issue at a conference in Obama, Fukui Prefecture, on October 9, 2017. (©Sankei)

The Obama Park observation deck overlooks a coastline that used to be accessible by a promenade. Investigation of the area suggested that a skilled operative could easily transport a person in a bag down the slope to the shore.

Yasushi and Fukie were then forced onto separate rubber boats at the coastline, transferred to a skiff, and finally to a mother ship. Yasushi recalled fearing for his life when he was tossed onto the rubber boat while still in the bag. "I thought they were going to throw me into the sea and kill me," he said.

In targeted abductions, operatives pre-select their victims before trailing and ambushing them. However, Yasushi and Fukie's visit to the park was spontaneous, and there is no evidence to suggest they were being followed. Therefore, it is likely they were abducted because they fit the profile of a "young couple."


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Tsutomu Nishioka, Visiting Professor, Reitaku University