Wow, this is crazy.
Since Japanese soldiers in World War II were stationed on thousands of small islands all over the Pacific, it was inevitable that some of them got cut off from communication and never received word that the war was over. Every now and then there are lone Japanese soldiers found on Pacific islands still trying to carry on the war and keep fighting because they never knew it was over.
One man named Hiroo Onoda remained on Lubang Island in the Phillipines for 29 years after the war and killed 30 islanders in small clashes with them and the local police.
After his commanding officer from the war located and him and told him the war was over, he surrendered himself to the Phillipine government in 1974. The circumstances were taken into consideration and the Phillipine president pardoned him.
He moved to Brazil and became a cattle farmer. He also wrote an autobiography called No Surrender: My 30 Year War in which he talked about his life as a guerilla fighter in a war that had been over for a long time. In 1996, he revisited Lubang Island and donated $10,000 to the local school.
He's still alive today.
Can you imagine how you'd feel turning yourself in after fighting for 30 years in a war that was already over? You've gotta feel like you wasted the best years of your life and at least a little bit disillusioned with life in general. I really want to read that book.
- Japanese soldier stuck on small island after WWII.
- Never heard news that the war was over.
- Kept fighting for 29 years.
- Still alive today.
Here are some other guys' stories who were stuck on small islands and never knew that the war was over:
Captain Fumio Nakahira of the Japanese Imperial Army was one of the last holdouts of the Second World War. He was discovered in April, 1980 on Mount Halcon on Mindoro Island in the Philippines.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fumio_NakahiraShoichi Yokoi (横井 庄一 Yokoi Shōichi, March 31, 1915?September 22, 1997) was a Japanese soldier and celebrity. Born in Saori, Aichi Prefecture, he was conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Army in 1941 and sent to Guam shortly thereafter. In 1944, as American forces reconquered the island, Yokoi went into hiding.
On January 24, 1972, Yokoi was discovered in a remote section of Guam by two of the island's inhabitants. For twenty-eight years he had been hiding in an underground jungle cave, fearing to come out of hiding even after finding leaflets declaring that World War II had ended.
"It is with much embarrassment that I have returned alive," he said upon his return to Japan, carrying his rusted rifle at his side. The remark would later become a popular saying (in Japanese, 「帰ってまいりました･･･恥ずかしながら、生きながらえて帰ってまいりました」).
After a whirlwind media tour of Japan, he married and settled down in rural Aichi Prefecture. Having lived alone in a cave for twenty-eight years, Yokoi became a popular television personality, and an advocate of austere living. He was featured in a 1977 documentary called Yokoi and His Twenty-Eight Years of Secret Life on Guam. He would eventually receive the equivalent of $300 in back pay, along with a small pension.
In 1991, he received an audience with Emperor Akihito. He considered the meeting the greatest honor of his life. He had even prepared a speech of regret to read to the emperor. Months later, Yokoi told a Japanese journalist that he had in fact had a deeply personal reason for remaining isolated:
"I had a tough childhood, among many unkind relatives," he explained. "I stuck to the jungle because I wanted to get even with them."
Yokoi died in 1997 of a heart attack at the age of 82. He was buried at a Nagoya cemetery, under a gravestone that was initially commissioned by his mother in 1955. Visitors to Guam can take a short ropeway ride to "Yokoi's Cave" a (very rundown) tourist attraction/monument to Yokoi's life. The cave itself is sealed off; only the entrance and airhole are visible.