26 April 2017

A Japanese soldier who did not surrender for thirty years

From War History Online, an article about a guy who refused to surrender:

After the atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan announced its surrender on 15 August 1945, bringing World War Two to an end, for most.
Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda (photo) was deployed to Lubang Island in the Philippines in December 1944. He was twenty-two years old. His orders as an intelligence officer were to disrupt and sabotage the enemy’s plans, and never to surrender or take his own life.
In February of 1945, Allied forces arrived on the island. It wasn’t long before Onoda and three others were the only Japanese on the island who had not surrendered or died. The four men slipped into the hills and planned to keep fighting as guerrilla soldiers.
They lived on bananas, coconut milk, and stolen cattle while occasionally engaging in shootouts with the local police.
In late 1945, the men began to see leaflets that had been dropped from airplanes. The leaflets announced that the war was over and ordered Japanese soldiers to surrender. They thought about it, decided it was a trick, and kept on fighting.
In 1950, one of the men surrendered. Another was killed in 1954 by a search party. Private First Class Kinsichi Kozuka was killed by police in 1972 while he and Onoda were destroying rice stores at a local farm. This left Onoda completely alone and made him a legend on Lubang.
The story of Onoda was heard by a young adventurer named Norio Suzuki. He decided to find “Lieutenant Onoda, a panda, and the Abominable Snowman, in that order.”
The two men met in the Lubang jungle on 20 February 1974. Somehow, they became friends. Suzuki told Onoda that the people of Japan were worried about him. Onoda was resolute that he would never surrender until ordered by a superior officer. Suzuki went back to Japan and, with the government’s help, found Onoda’s commanding officer. Major Yoshimi Taniguchi  now an elderly man working in a bookstore, flew to Lubang and relieved Onoda of his duties on 9 March 1974, almost thirty years after the war’s end.
Three days later, Onoda surrendered his sword to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. He was awarded a pardon for his actions since the war, including his part in killing nearly thirty people.
On his return to Japan, he was treated as a hero. He chose to move to Brazil and become a cattle rancher. After ten years, he returned to Japan and set up schools to teach wilderness survival to children.
Odona died at the age of 91 in 2014.
Suzuki did find a panda in the wild after finding Odona. He was killed in an avalanche while hunting for the Abominable Snowman.
Rico says that's one stubborn (and tough) sumbitch (and a shame about Suzuki).

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