Chronology of events linked to abductions

Following is a chronology of events related to confirmed and alleged abductions of Japanese nationals to North Korea. Ages and occupations given are those at the time of disappearance:

May 1963 — Takeshi Terakoshi, 13, of Ishikawa Prefecture, and his two uncles disappear while fishing in the Sea of Japan.

March 1970 — Nine Japanese leftist radicals hijack a Japan Airlines jet on a domestic flight and force it to take them to North Korea.

1975 — North Korean leader Kim Il Sung’s son Kim Jong Il takes charge of anti-South Korea operations.

September 1977 — Yutaka Kume, 52, a Tokyo security guard, disappears on the Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture.

Nov. 15, 1977 — Junior high student Megumi Yokota, 13, disappears in Niigata on her way home from school.

June 1978 — Tokyo nightclub hostess Yaeko Taguchi, 22, disappears, leaving two infant children at a day-care center.

July 7, 1978 — Apprentice carpenter Yasushi Chimura, 23, and his fiancee, Fukie Hamamoto, a 23-year-old employee of a jeans shop, disappear together in Obama, Fukui Prefecture.

July 31, 1978 — Kaoru Hasuike, 20, a college student, and Yukiko Okudo, 22, a cosmetician, vanish together in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture.

Aug. 12, 1978 — Shuichi Ichikawa, 23, a public corporation employee, and office clerk Rumiko Masumoto, 24, disappear together in Fukiage, Kagoshima Prefecture.

Hitomi Soga, 19, disappears on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture, along with her mother, Miyoshi, 46.

April 1980 — Kaoru Matsuki, 26, from Kumamoto and a student at the University of Madrid, disappears after writing home around the end of April 1980.

Toru Ishioka, 22, a native of Sapporo and traveling with Matsuki, disappears after sending a letter home from Vienna postmarked June 3, 1980.

June 1980 — Osaka cook Tadaaki Hara, 43, vanishes in Miyazaki.

1983 — Keiko Arimoto, 23, a former college student from Kobe studying in London, disappears after writing to her parents from Copenhagen.

November 1987 — A Korean Air jet is blown out of the sky by a bomb planted by North Korean agents, killing all 115 people onboard.

January 1988 — North Korean agent Kim Hyon Hui, convicted of a role in the Korean Air bombing, tells a court her Japanese-language instructor was an abducted Japanese woman going by the name Ri Un Hye.

September 1988 — Ishioka’s family receives a letter from him telling them he is living in North Korea with Matsuki and Arimoto.

January 1991 — Japan and North Korea meet in Pyongyang to hold the first round of negotiations on normalizing bilateral ties.

May 1991 — Japan’s National Police Agency says it is almost certain that Taguchi is Ri Un Hye.

November 1992 — The eighth round of normalization talks between Japan and North Korea breaks down over Japan’s claim that Taguchi had been kidnapped and forced to teach Japanese to North Korean agents.

May 1997 — The NPA says 10 Japanese are believed to have been abducted by North Korean agents in seven cases.

June 1998 — North Korea’s Red Cross Society issues a report saying no “missing Japanese nationals” have been found.

March 23, 1999 — Suspected North Korean spy ships are spotted off Noto Peninsula but escape before being captured.

Dec. 21, 1999 — The Red Cross societies of Japan and North Korea agree in Beijing to conduct a thorough investigation into the missing Japanese.

March 13, 2000 — The North Korean Red Cross announces it will begin investigating the cases of the “missing” Japanese and inform Japan of the results.

April 5 to April 7, 2000 — Japanese and North Korean officials meet in Pyongyang and resume the normalization talks that collapsed in 1992.

June 13 to June 15, 2000 — South Korean President Kim Dae Jung meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang in an unprecedented inter-Korean summit.

July 26, 2000 — Foreign Minister Yohei Kono and North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun meet in Bangkok for the first-ever foreign ministerial talks between the two countries.

Dec. 17, 2001 — The North Korean Red Cross says it has suspended its search for the “missing” Japanese.

Dec. 22, 2001 — An unidentified ship believed to be North Korean sinks in the East China Sea after a shootout with Japanese patrol boats.

March 11, 2002 — Tokyo police set up a squad to look into the disappearance of Arimoto, suspecting she was abducted to North Korea.

March 16, 2002 — Megumi Yao, former wife of one of the 1970s JAL hijackers, tells a court she helped abduct Arimoto to Pyongyang in order to have her marry a Japanese man in North Korea.

March 22, 2002 — The North Korean Red Cross says it is ready to resume talks with the Japanese Red Cross on the “missing” Japanese.

April 29 to April 30, 2002 — During Red Cross talks on humanitarian issues in Beijing, the North Korean delegation promises to conduct a “serious investigation” into cases of “missing Japanese nationals.”

Aug. 25 to Aug. 26, 2002 — Japan and North Korea hold high-level talks in Pyongyang to pave the way for normalization negotiations.

Aug. 30, 2002 — Japan announces Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will visit Pyongyang on Sept. 17 to hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

Sept. 11, 2002 — The Japan Coast Guard raises a suspected North Korean spy ship that sank in December.

Sept. 17, 2002 — North Korean leader Kim Jong admits to Koizumi during their summit that 13 Japanese nationals were abducted or lured to the North and apologizes. North Korea says five, including Chimura, Hamamoto, Hasuike and Okudo, are alive and eight are dead, but claims there is no record of entry into the North for one other person on Tokyo’s official list of missing Japanese.

The two leaders sign a joint declaration agreeing to resume normalization talks in October.

Sept. 20, 2002 — The fifth surviving abductee is identified as Hitomi Soga of Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture.

Sept. 27, 2002 — Interpol issues an arrest warrant for one of the 1970 JAL hijackers on suspicion of abducting Arimoto to North Korea in 1983.

Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, 2002 — A Japanese government mission visits North Korea to investigate the abductions and interview the five surviving abductees.

Oct. 2, 2002 — The mission reports its findings to the abductees’ relatives, including information on how the eight died.

Oct. 3, 2002 — Terakoshi, living in North Korea since he went missing, visits Japan for the first time in 39 years.

Oct. 5, 2002 — Niigata Prefectural Police inspect the site where Hitomi Soga was snatched.

Oct. 8, 2002 — The NPA adds four people to its official list of abductees — Ishioka, Matsuki, Soga and her mother, Miyoshi — bringing the official list to 15 people taken in 10 cases.

Oct. 9, 2002 — The government announces the five survivors will make a homecoming visit.

Oct. 15, 2002 — The five surviving abductees return to Japan for the first time since 1978.