Institute History


A couple disappears after a romantic evening under the stars in Obama…
A 13-year old school girl mysteriously vanishes on her way home from badminton practice in Niigata…
A student from Kobe disappears whilst holidaying in London….

From the early 1970s to the mid-80s, scores of ordinary Japanese began disappearing without a trace, many of them from beaches and remote villages along the Japan Sea coast, others from Tokyo, London, and Madrid. After decades of speculation, it has recently been revealed that these ordinary Japanese citizens had in fact been abducted by North Korean spies as part of a bizarre and sinister plot of espionage by the hardline, communist dictatorship of Kim Jong Il.

From the last front of the Cold War to the new battle against the ‘Axis of Evil’, YUKAI! tells the extraordinary story of the Chimura, Yokota, and Arimoto families—some of the unfortunate victims of a terrifying abduction campaign by North Korea, and who are now unwittingly caught up in the eye of a storm.

YUKAI! interweaves the incredible stories of Yasushi and Fukie Chimura, one of three couples whisked away from beaches during the summer of 1978; Megumi Yokota, the 13-year old schoolgirl kidnapped in 1977 and later spotted at a spy training school in Pyongyang; and Keiko Arimoto, a 23-year old student who disappeared in 1983 from Europe.

After a quarter of a century in North Korea, five abductees, including Yasushi and Fukie Chimura, returned to Japan in October 2002 to a barrage of media attention and an outpouring of emotion. But the abduction issue is far from resolved. North Korea says eight abductees including Megumi Yokota and Keiko Arimoto are dead but Japan has strong reasons to believe that some of them are still alive.

YUKAI! is an emotional and uncompromising journey into the most powerful issue in Japan today, and tells the remarkable story of a group of ordinary Japanese citizens who are perhaps the last remaining casualties of the Cold War, and who have become the latest pawns in a diplomatic chess game. YUKAI! is an extraordinary tale of abduction and international espionage.


YUKAI! is the story of ordinary families facing extraordinary circumstances. Their story is not only one of the most fascinating remnants of the Cold War, but also one of the most enduring and tragic. The characters are complex, contradictory and human—just like you and I. They are also courageous, passionate, and determined—the characteristics that we like to see in ourselves. But they have also suffered terribly and their courage and determination seem to stem from this suffering in the hope that their perseverance will one day bring their loved ones back.

YUKAI! has themes universal to us all: love, loss, and hope. The accounts given by the families will provide an intimate insight into the lives of these ordinary Japanese and their truly remarkable story.

The objectives of this film are to explore the universal themes of this enthralling real-life tale, to give insight into the current geo-political circumstance in Japan and the Koreas, and to relate the incredible struggle of a handful of families against all odds through a compelling documentary for international audiences.

YUKAI! is a story that must be told.


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