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 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
New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain
By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen
New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
- 1 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 2 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 3 Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
- 4 The bubble bursts for Sodastream
- 5 If you think Russell Brand’s new book is confused, you should read what his critics have to say about it
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson criticised for beer tweet
The bubble bursts for Sodastream
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
'Santa Claus' dead: John Moore starred in Coca Cola and Morrisons adverts
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...