Man of 86 who claims to be Japanese soldier 'a fake'

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The Independent Online

An elderly man claiming to be a third Japanese soldier who has been in hiding in the southern Philippines since the end of the Second World War has been dismissed as a fake.

An elderly man claiming to be a third Japanese soldier who has been in hiding in the southern Philippines since the end of the Second World War has been dismissed as a fake.

When 86-year-old Tenglo Tali emerged from the Magalo mountains yesterday, local tribesmen claimed he had spent the past six decades in hiding and had been known as "Uchi" when he first came to live with them during the 1940s.

But their story was quickly denounced by local police and Japan's embassy in Manila after his story was found to be untrustworthy, disappointing the hordes of journalists and diplomats following thesaga.

"We have a strong suspicion this is another fake straggler," Robert Kunisala, intelligence chief of the regional police office, said. "Some Japanese men came two days ago to get saliva and hair samples of an 86-year-old man from a tribal community outside the city. But I am certain that he is not Japanese by just looking at his physical features."

Mr Tali, who allegedly fathered 24 children by four different women during his time in "hiding", was found to speak no Japanese and talked to the crowds who came to greet him in the local B'laan dialect.

He was, however, fully conversant in the international language of media-pleasing, posing next to photographs which supposedly showed a younger him as an Imperial soldier.

Last week, journalists and diplomats flocked to the city of General Santos to greet another two men who claimed to have been Japanese soldiers in hiding since the war. But the two never turned up and, after four days of waiting, Tokyo declared the story a hoax.

Mr Tali's tale, it seems, will end in a similar fashion.

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