Hiroo Onoda: Japanese soldier who refused to surrender for 29 years has died

Army intelligence officer hid in a Philippines jungle until 1974

Hiroo Onoda, the last Japanese imperial soldier to come out of hiding and surrender 29 years after the end of World War II has died aged 91.

Onoda refused to surrender for 29 years, only coming out of hiding when his former commander flew to the Lubang Island in the Philippines in March 1974 to reverse his 1945 orders to stay behind and spy on American troops.

Onoda, an army intelligence officer, died on Thursday after a brief stay in a Tokyo hospital. Chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga on Friday expressed his condolences, praising Onoda for his strong will to live and indomitable spirit.

Onoda and another World War II holdout, Sgt. Shoichi Yokoi, who emerged from the jungle in 1972, caused a sensation when they returned home to huge heroes' welcomes.

After graduating from school in 1939, Onoda worked for a Japanese trading firm in Shanghai before he was drafted into a military academy.

He was dispatched to Lubang, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of Manila in December 1944.

Most Japanese soldier surrendered when US troops landed on Lubang in February 1945, though hundreds remained missing for years after the war.

But Onoda refused to give up, despite at least four searches during which family members appealed to him over loudspeakers and flights dropped leaflets urging him to surrender.

Hiroo Onoda emerges from the jungle on Lubang island in the Philippines on 11 March 1974 Hiroo Onoda emerges from the jungle on Lubang island in the Philippines on 11 March 1974 He told ABC in 2010 that the leaflets were filled with mistakes "so I judged it was a plot by the Americans."

Struggling to feed himself, his mission became one of survival. He stole rice and bananas from local people down the hill, and shot their cows to make dried beef.

The turning point came on 20 February, 1974, when he met Norio Suzuki, a young traveller, who ventured to Lubang in pursuit of Onoda.

Suzuki returned to Japan and contacted the government, which located Onoda's superior, Maj. Yoshimi Taniguchi, and flew him to his hideout in Lubang to deliver his surrender order in person.

In his formal surrender to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Onoda wore his 30-year-old imperial army uniform, cap and sword, all still in good condition.

After the furore surrounding his return died down, Onoda bought a ranch in Brazil. He later was head of a children's nature school in northern Japan.

"I don't consider those 30 years a waste of time," Onoda said in an interview in 1995. "Without that experience, I wouldn't have my life today.

"I do everything twice as fast so I can make up for the 30 years," he added. "I wish someone could eat and sleep for me so I can work 24 hours a day." 

Additional reporting by agencies
 

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?