This thesis sets out to explore how Japanese attitudes toward North Korea have changed since North Korean leader Kim Jong-il admitted that North Korea systematically abducted Japanese citizens during the 70s and 80s. The shocking abduction confession was made on September 17, 2002, and similarly to 9/11 in the US one year earlier, this day came to be known simply as 9/17 in Japanese abduction issue rhetoric. By providing statistical data and giving an insight to the opinions of the most relevant voices in the Japanese North Korea debate, the thesis points out several changes brought forth by 9/17. The transformation of the abduction issue from suspicion to fact spurred a domestic “witch hunt” for people who had denied or doubted North Korea’s involvement in the disappearances before Kim Jong-il’s admission. The abduction issue came to be used as an ultimate standard of morality which had the power of stripping the doubters of legitimacy while it made the hardliners nearly untouchable. Since 9/17 the North Korea debate has become extremely one-sided as the Japanese government, the media and the public opinion have found common ground in advocating tough measures against North Korea.The new climate of opinion is a far cry from the reconciliatory mood of the 90s when normalization of diplomatic relations with North Korea was on top of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ agenda. As the bilateral relations have bogged down in animosity and distrust, many actors affiliated with the political right have seen their chance to exploit the abduction issue for personal gains.By going through a substantial amount of Japanese literature on the abduction issue, I seek to unravel these agendas and find out how anti-North Korea sentiments have come to be the only tolerated attitudes in today’s North Korea debate. In doing so, I discuss the transformation from assailant to victim in the minds of the Japanese, the public opinion’s hijacking of Japan’s North Korea policy and a threat perception which has reached unprecedented heights and resulted in key actors’ calls for remilitarization and even military action against North Korea. Finally, I assess the future prospects for the Japan – North Korea relationship.