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Japanese Soldier Hiroo Onoda Surrenders 29 Years After End of World War II August 18, 2006

Posted by ionicflux in People.
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Second Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda is a former Japanese army intelligence officer who was stationed on Lubang Island in the Philippines. He was there when it was reclaimed by the Allies in February 1945, towards the conclusion of World War II. Most of the Japanese troops were slain or captured by American forces. Onoda and several other men, however, hid in the dense jungle.
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Onoda continued his campaign, initially living in the mountains with three fellow soldiers. One of his comrades eventually surrendered to Filipino forces, and the other two were killed in gun battles with local forces – one in 1954, the other in 1972 – leaving Onoda alone in the mountains. For 29 years, he refused to surrender, dismissing every attempt to convince him that the war was over as a ruse. In 1960, Onoda was declared legally dead in Japan.

Found by a Japanese student, Norio Suzuki, Onoda still refused to accept that the war was over unless he received orders to lay down his arms from his superior officer. Suzuki offered his help, and returned to Japan with photographs of himself and Onoda as proof of their encounter. In 1974 the Japanese government located Onoda’s commanding officer, Major Taniguchi, who had since become a bookseller. He flew to Lubang and informed Onoda of the defeat of Japan in WWII and ordered him to lay down his arms. Lieutenant Onoda emerged from the jungle 29 years after the end of World War II, and accepted the commanding officer’s order of surrender in his dress uniform and sword, with his Arisaka rifle still in operating condition, 500 rounds of ammunition and several hand grenades.

Though he had killed some thirty Philippine inhabitants of the island and engaged in several shootouts with the police, the circumstances of these events were taken into consideration, and Onoda received a pardon from President Ferdinand Marcos.

After his surrender, Onoda moved to Brazil, where he became a cattle farmer. He released an autobiography, No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War, shortly after his surrender, detailing his life as a guerilla fighter in a war that was long over. He revisited Lubang Island in 1996, donating $10,000 for the local school on Lubang.

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