40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended

Khalid Elhassan - January 3, 2019

World War II officially ended in 1945 when Japan’s representatives signed their country’s articles of surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Harbor, but the fighting did not end that day. Some members of the Japanese military, for a variety of reasons, refused to turn in their arms and surrender, and instead hightailed it to jungle and mountain hideouts. From there, they stubbornly kept on fighting and/ or evading capture for months, years, or even decades after the war’s end.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Japan’s Foreign Minister signing his country’s instrument of surrender aboard the USS Missouri. Wikimedia

40. Japan Officially Surrendered on September 2nd, 1945

Japan had put up a fanatical fight, but after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the promise that more Japanese cities would meet the same fate, it became clear that the situation was hopeless. At noon, on August 15th, 1945, a recording of Japanese emperor Hirohito was broadcast over the radio, announcing that Japan had accepted the Allies’ terms of surrender, and would give up the fight. A few weeks later, Japan formally signed the surrender documents, finally bringing WWII to an end.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Extent of Japan’s WWII empire. Quora

39. The Vastness of Japan’s Conquered Empire Created Communications Difficulties

Japan’s surrender might have been announced in August of 1945 and formally concluded early the following month, but ensuring that all Japanese units and military personnel got word of that surrender was a problem. At its height, Japan’s WWII empire had stretched across thousands of miles. Across that vastness, Japanese military personnel were scattered from the borders of India in the west, to the central Pacific in the east, and from Manchuria and the Aleutian Islands off Alaska in the north, to New Guinea and the edge of Australia in the south.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Japanese soldier operating a radio in WWII. Pintrest

38. Many Japanese Personnel Were Cut Off From Effective Communications

Simply maintaining communications across the vastness of the Japanese conquests was a herculean task at the best of times, and in the most ideal of conditions. By the time WWII drew to an end, it was not the best of time for Japan, nor were conditions for communicating with her forces anywhere close to ideal. The US Navy had sent most Japanese shipping to the bottom of the sea, cutting off Japanese garrisons from physical contact with the home islands, and Allied airmen had bombed much of Japan’s communications network to ruins.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Japanese soldiers cheering early in the war, when things had been going well for them. UN Nations Forum

37. Many Japanese Had Difficulty Believing That Their Country Could Have Surrendered

In the weeks following Japan’s declaration of surrender, communications were patched up with most Japanese in the field, and word filtered down that the war was over. It came as a shock to many. While it had been obvious for some time that things had not been going well, Japan’s military had drilled into its personnel that Japanese always fought to the death, and that surrender was so dishonorable that death was a preferable alternative. Against that backdrop, Japan’s surrender astonished many of her warriors.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Japanese soldiers laying down their arms in Indochina, as British Indian Army troops look on. Warfare History Network

36. Some Japanese Preferred Death Over Surrender

Japanese military personnel who learned of the surrender had to first overcome the shock of defeat. For some, it was too much to process, as years of indoctrination that Japanese soldiers simply did not surrender overwhelmed their coping capacity. So caught between the imperative of obeying orders from their chain of command and laying down their arms, and the imperatives of their honor as they had been taught to see it, they committed suicide. The majority, however, got over it, and surrendered in accordance with their orders.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Japanese soldiers cheering to celebrate a victory. Pintrest

35. Some Japanese Convinced Themselves That the Surrender Was Fake News

Some Japanese took a different route, neither killing themselves in shame, nor obeying orders to put down their weapons and turn themselves in to Allied forces as prisoners of war. Instead, they convinced themselves that the surrender was “fake news”. They had been so strongly indoctrinated with bushido-based notions of fighting unto death and avoiding the ignominy and dishonor of surrender, that it was inconceivable that their leaders could have accepted the ignominy and dishonor of surrender. It thus followed that the orders to surrender could not have come from their government, but were an enemy ruse.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
US Marines landing on Saipan in 1944. WWII Today

34. The First Famous Diehard: Sakae Oba

Compared to other Japanese holdouts, captain Sakae Oba’s resistance was relatively brief. However, it captured public attention, and introduced the trope of Japanese holdouts to popular culture. Oba had joined the Imperial Japanese Army in 1934, and after years of service in China, he ended up in Saipan, three months before the US Marines invaded in June of 1944. Overcoming fierce resistance, the Marines gradually ground down the defenders. At the end of their tether, the Japanese decided to go out in a final blaze of glory, and launched a massive banzai charge – the largest of the entire war. Captain Oba was one of the few survivors.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Captain Sakae Oba. Learning History

33. Oba, “The Fox”

Sakae Oba took command of 46 surviving Japanese soldiers, and along with 160 civilians, headed into Saipan’s jungles. After hiding the civilians in caves and remote villages, Oba led his men in a guerrilla campaign, raiding American outposts and supplies, ambushing patrols, and sniping at sentries. Patrols sent to track down and finish off Oba’s force were unsuccessful. So was a massive dragnet, with American troops lined up across Saipan, separated from each other by only two meters, that swept the island from end to end. The chagrined officer in charge of the operation was reassigned, and the Marines nicknamed Oba “The Fox” for his elusiveness.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
American reinforcements landing on Saipan in June of 1944. Japan Times

32. Oba Kept Fighting for 16 Months

Captain Oba continued fighting after the war had ended, dismissing as enemy propaganda the news of Japan’s surrender that were blared via loudspeakers and contained in leaflets airdropped over the jungle. All in all, he held out for 16 months after Saipan had fallen, and for 3 months after the war had ended. Eventually, American authorities brought in a Japanese general who had commanded a brigade in Saipan, and sent him to find and reason with Oba.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Captain Sakae Oba’s surrender. Japan Times

31. Sakae Oba’s Surrender

The Japanese general tramped alone through Saipan’s jungle, whistling military tunes, until he drew out some of Oba’s men, who took took him to their commander. After presenting Oba with official documents from Imperial General Headquarters ordering him to surrender, the holdout ended. On December 1st, 1945, Sakae Oba marched his charges out of their hideouts, and in a dignified ceremony, surrendered his sword and his command. Upon returning to Japan, Sakae Oba led a productive life, working in the private sector, before turning to politics. He died in 1992, aged 78.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Ei Yamaguchi returning to his cave in 1994. Pacific Wrecks

30. Ei Yamaguchi in Peleliu

When American forces captured the island of Peleliu in 1944, lieutenant Ei Yamaguchi was among the few Japanese survivors. He took charge of 32 other Japanese survivors, and went to ground in the island’s extensive underground defensive network. There, the Japanese evaded capture by hiding in and moving about via the system of tunnels beneath Peleliu. Cut off from communications with Japan, they received no official word of the war’s end, and dismissed American announcements that the war was over as an enemy trick. Dreaming of retaking Peleliu someday, the holdouts kept up a desultory guerrilla resistance.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Ei Yamaguchi in Peleliu, decades after the war’s end. US Naval Institute

29. Yamaguchi’s Last Minute Surrender

A holdout was captured in April of 1947, and when interrogated, he revealed that his comrades did not believe that Japan had surrendered, and growing desperate, were contemplating a suicidal banzai attack to go out in a blaze of glory. American authorities hurriedly secured letters from the holdouts’ families, informing them that the war was over and urging them to surrender. They also flew in a Japanese admiral to confirm the news. That finally did the trick, and on April 21st, 1947, the holdouts emerged from their caves and marched to the island’s headquarters building. There, lieutenant Yamaguchi saluted, bowed, and ceremoniously surrendered his sword and his command.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Japanese prisoners of war in Soviet custody. The Moscow Times

28. Ishinosuke Uwano in Sakhalin Island

Ishinosuke Uwano was drafted into the Japanese army, and posted to the then-Japanese southern half of Sakhalin Island in 1943 – the northern half belonged to the Soviet Union. When the Soviets invaded Sakhalin’s southern half in 1945, the Japanese put up a fierce resistance, before they were overwhelmed. Uwano held out, but was eventually captured and shipped to Soviet camps in Siberia. There, the Japanese POWs labored for years, until they were repatriated to Japan in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Uwano was not among the repatriated.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Sakhalin. Russia IC

27. Sightings of Uwano in Sakhalin

After the war, Uwano’s family received scattered reports of sightings in Sakhalin, informing them that he had gone into hiding in its rugged and harsh terrain after he was cutoff behind enemy lines. The last reported sighting was received by Uwano’s relatives in 1958, a full 13 years after the war had ended. After that date, no more was heard of him. In 2000, his family recorded his disappearance, in accordance with a law for registering Japanese military personnel who did not return after World War II as war dead.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Ishinosuke Uwano. NBC News

26. Uwano Became a Soviet Citizen

However, Uwano had eventually accepted Japan’s defeat, and surrendered to the Soviets. Between the Soviet Union’s paranoid penchant for excessive secrecy, exacerbated by Cold War tensions, as well as bureaucratic ineptness, neither the Japanese government nor Uwano’s family were notified. After his release, he settled in the USSR instead of returning to Japan. He got naturalized as a Soviet citizen, ended up living in the Ukrainian SSR, married, and had three children. In 2006, an aging Uwano asked friends to contact the Japanese government, and when it sent officials to interview him in Kiev, the story of his survival finally came out.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Ishinosuke Uwano upon his return to Japan. Fyens

25. Uwano Lost His Japanese Citizenship

When Uwano sought to visit Japan to pray at his parents’ graves, reconnect with his family, and once again view his birth country’s famous cherry blossoms, he discovered that, because he had been declared dead in 2000, he was technically no longer considered a Japanese citizen. He was allowed to visit Japan, but only as a visiting Ukrainian citizen travelling on his Ukrainian passport. Not that he minded. As he told reporters, he had no plans to live in Japan. “Ukraine has become my homeland”, he said.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
A Japanese ship sinking under air attack. Pintrest

24. The Japanese Sailor Who Hid in the Jungle

Seaman Noboru Kinoshita was in a Japanese ship that was attacked and sunk off the Philippines in 1944 by American planes. He was one of the few survivors who managed to swim to safety, reaching the shores of Samar Island after hours in the water. There, he joined Japanese forces and accompanied them to Luzon, where they fought the US military. When his unit was dispersed, Kinoshita struck off into the jungles of Luzon, successfully evading enemy forces. There, isolated from the outside world, he eked a precarious existence, surviving on lizards, frogs, fruits, monkeys, and any other edibles he could find.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Luzon jungle. Phys Org

23. Kinoshita Killed Himself After He Was Captured

Awaiting the day when Japanese forces would return to recapture the Philippines and rescue him, Kinoshita struggled to stay alive in the Luzon jungle, unaware that the war was over. He waited for 11 years, until 1955, when he was caught by Philippine police while raiding a villager’s sweet potato patch. He was too ashamed to return to Japan in defeat, so he begged his Filipino guards to kill him. They refused, but a month after his capture, a 33 year old Noboru Kinoshita managed to commit suicide by hanging himself.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi. Wikimedia

22. Shoichi Yokoi Hid in the Jungle for 28 Years

Shoichi Yokoi spent 28 years in the jungles of Guam, hiding and avoiding capture – the third longest Japanese holdout. A Japanese army sergeant, Yokoi had been posted to Guam in 1943. A year later, the island was captured by American forces, and he fled into the jungle with nine other Japanese soldiers, who refused to surrender at war’s end. The group gradually dwindled over the years, until Yokoi’s last two companions drowned in a flood in 1964, and he was left as the last holdout on Guam.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Shoichi Yokoi’s underground home. Typepad

21. Yokoi Knew the War Had Ended, But Refused to Surrender Anyhow

Unlike most holdouts, Yokoi knew by 1952 that the war had ended with Japan’s surrender. However, he could not bring himself to swallow his pride and return home as a defeated soldier. He also convinced himself that Japan would rise again and attempt to retake Guam, in which case he would be ready and in place to assist with the island’s recapture. Awaiting that day, Yokoi survived in the jungle, spending his days hiding in an underground hole, and emerging at night to hunt lizards and gather tubers and snails.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Shoichi Yokoi at a police station after his capture. World War II Multimedia Database

20. Yokoi’s Capture

In January of 1972, two local men came across Yokoi in the jungle. They assumed he was a fellow local and were about to move on, when a paranoid Yokoi, assuming they were about to attack him, decided to attack them first. They beat him up and subdued him, then carried him out of the jungle and back to civilization, where his astonishing story finally came out. Asked how he had managed to hide for so long in such a small island, only two miles from a major American air base, Yokoi replied “I was really good at hide and seek“.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Shoichi Yokoi, left, upon his return to Japan. Pintrest

19. Yokoi Became a Celebrity Upon His Return

By the time Yokoi made it back to Japan, he was famous. Unlike most other castaways, he had little trouble adjusting to life in a Japan radically different from the one he had known. Despite 28 years of isolation in a Pacific jungle, his mind was still sharp, and he swiftly parleyed his celebrity into a successful media career, becoming a popular TV personality and an advocate for austere living. Shoichi Yokoi died of a heart attack in 1997, and was buried under a gravestone that had been commissioned by his mother in 1955, when he had been officially declared dead.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Anatahan Island. Atlas Obscura

18. The Anatahan Castaways

In June of 1944, a Japanese convoy was sunk off Anatahan, a small Marianas island about 75 miles north of Saipan. 36 soldiers and sailors swam to Anatahan, where they were taken in by the Japanese head of a coconut plantation and his wife. American forces invaded the Marianas shortly thereafter, seizing the main islands and bypassing the smaller ones such as Anahatan. The Japanese on Anatahan ended up cutoff and isolated from the outside world. Conditions grew dire on the resource-poor island, and the castaways barely survived by consuming coconuts, lizards, bats, insects, taro, wild sugar cane, and any edible that they could find.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Still from a movie about the Anatahan castaways. This Island Rod

17. The Castaways’ Salvation Fell From the Skies

Salvation fell from the skies in January of 1945, when a damaged B-29 bomber, returning from a raid on Japan, crashed on Anatahan. Scavenging the wreck, the castaways fashioned the plane’s metal into useful items, such as knives, pots, and roofs for their huts. Parachutes were turned into clothing, oxygen tanks were used for storing water, machinegun springs were fashioned into fishing hooks, nylon cords were used as fishing lines, and some pistols were also recovered. Life remained difficult, but the B-29 crash saved the castaways, who had been facing slow starvation, until seemingly divine aid fell from the sky.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Anatahan castaways, as depicted in a 1950s movie. Pintrest

16. Life on Anatahan Turns Into ‘Lord of the Flies’

Anatahan’s demographics further complicated the castaways’ plight, and produced Lord of the Flies dynamics. Unsurprisingly, 30 men stranded for years on a small island that contained only one woman led to trouble, as the men competed for her affections. The woman, Kazuko Higa, had arrived on Anatahan with her husband in 1944, but he disappeared in mysterious circumstances soon after the castaways washed ashore. So she married a Kikuichiro Higa as protection against his comrades. However, a castaway shot and killed her new husband, only to have his own throat slit soon thereafter by another aspiring beau.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Still from a movie about the Anatahan castaways. A Pessimist is Never Disappointed

15. Kazuko Higa, Femme Fatale

Kazuko Higa became a full blown femme fatale, transferring her affections between a series of lovers. Things got worse when the men discovered how to ferment coconut wine, then spent days on end drinking themselves into a stupor, interspersed with bouts of alcohol-fueled rage. By 1951, there had been 12 murders on Anatahan, as the men fought for the affections of the island’s sole female. One of Kazuko’s wooers had been stabbed by jealous rivals on 13 separate occasions, yet returned to his amorous pursuit as soon as he recovered from each attempt on his life.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Kazuko Higa, after turning herself in. Paleric

14. The Anatahan Castaways Dismissed News of Japan’s Surrender as “Fake”

Leaflets were airdropped on Anatahan, informing the castaways that the war was over, but they refused to believe it. The island being unimportant, and its inhabitants being isolated and harmless to the outside world, American authorities did not deem it worth the trouble to send in troops to root them out. So the castaways were left to their own devices, with an airplane dropping more leaflets every now and then, that were dismissed as “fake news” each time. Finally, in 1950, a desperate Kazuko flagged down a passing American ship, and asked to be taken off the island.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Surrender of Anatahan castaways. WW2 Wrecks

13. The Anatahan Castaways Surrendered in 1951

When the authorities learned from Kazuko Higa that the castaways did not believe that the war was over, they contacted their families, who wrote letters informing them that the war had ended years earlier. The castaways surrendered in 1951, and returned to Japan, where their story became a sensation. Kazuko Higa was nicknamed “The Queen Bee of Anatahan” by the Japanese press, and found temporary fame selling her story to newspapers and recounting it to packed theaters. After the public lost interest, however, she fell into prostitution and abject poverty. She died at age 51, while working as a garbage collector.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Captured Japanese soldiers. History 101

12. Japan’s Most Famous Holdout Was a Trained Commando

In 1944, lieutenant Hiroo Onoda was sent on a reconnaissance mission to the island of Lubang in the western Philippines. A 22 year old intelligence officer, specially trained as a commando, Onoda was order to spy on American forces and conduct guerrilla operations. He was ordered to never surrender, but also expressly ordered that, under no circumstances, was he authorized to take his own life. When American forces eventually captured Lubang, Onoda and three other soldiers took to the hills, where they were cut off from communications with their chain of command, and thus did not receive official word of Japan’s surrender.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Rugged terrain of Lubang, in which Hiroo Onoda and his men hid. Philippine Daily Inquirer

11. Onoda and His Men Kept Fighting After Lubang Fell

Lieutenant Onoda’s last instructions were to fight to the death, and absent countermanding orders, he determined to do just that. For nearly three decades, he survived with his tiny command in the dense thickets of Lubang. They erected bamboo huts and eked a living by hunting and gathering in the island’s jungle, stealing rice and other food from local farmers, and killing the occasional cow for meat. Tormented by heat and mosquitoes, rats and rain, Onoda’s band patched their increasingly threadbare uniforms, and kept their weapons in working order.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Lubang Island. Trip the Islands

10. Onoda’s and His Men Dismissed All Evidence of Japan’s Surrender as “Fake News”

Over the years, Onoda and his men came across numerous leaflets announcing that the war had ended. Like other holdouts, they dismissed them as ruses of war and enemy propaganda. When they encountered a leaflet with a copy of an official surrender order, they examined it closely to determine whether it was genuine, then dismissed it as a forgery. It was not. Even when they recovered airdropped letters and pictures from their own families urging them to surrender, Onoda’s band convinced themselves that it was a trick.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
The Japanese hippie backpacker who found Hiroo Onoda, posing with the holdout and his rifle in February of 1972. Rare Historical Photos

9. Onoda Kept Going, Even After Losing All His Comrades

Onoda’s tiny contingent steadily dwindled over the years. In 1949, one of them simply left the group, wandered alone around Lubang for six months, and eventually surrendered. Another was killed by a search party in 1954. Onoda’s last companion was shot dead by police in 1972, who came upon the duo as they were trying to burn the rice stores of local farmers. Onoda was thus finally alone. Yet he kept on fighting, doggedly conducting a one man war.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Hiroo Onoda surrendering his sword to Ferdinand Marcos, president of the Philippines. All That is Interesting

8. Onoda Finally Surrendered in 1974

In 1974, a Japanese hippie backpacker stumbled across Onoda, and convinced him that the war had ended decades earlier. He still refused to surrender, however, without orders from a superior officer. The holdout’s new friend contacted the Japanese government, which tracked down his former commanding officer. Travelling to Lubang, Onoda’s wartime commander personally informed him that the war was over, that he was released from military duty, and ordered him to stand down. Clad in his threadbare uniform, lieutenant Onoda handed in his sword and other weapons to representatives of the US and Filipino military, and finally brought his private war to an end, nearly three decades after WWII had ended.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
1972 search party for Hiroo Onoda. Observer

7. While Lauded in Japan, Onoda Was Reviled in His Philippine Stomping Ground

Hiroo Onoda returned to adulation in Japan. However, back in Lubang, the locals did not see him as an honorable man devoted to duty, but as a bloody minded idiot who had plagued them throughout his 29 year holdout. He had stolen, destroyed, and sabotaged their property, and killed about 30 local farmers and cops while “requisitioning” food and supplies to fight a war that had ended decades earlier. And a war that he knew or should have known was over, making the subsequent deaths little more than criminal homicides by a maniac. He was pardoned by the Philippines’ president.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Hiroo Onoda in later years, as a rancher in Brazil. Observer

6. Onoda Was Never Held to Account For the Dozens of Civilians Killed During His Holdout

Hiroo Onoda was never held accountable for the dozens of innocents killed during his holdout. Rather than ending his days in jail or on the gallows, he got to a live a comfortable and long life, showered by accolades. A militarist through and through, who believed that the war had been a sacred mission, Onoda was unable to fit in the pacifist Japan to which he returned. The culture and country had simply grown unrecognizable to him. Within a year of returning to Japan, Onoda emigrated to Brazil, bought a cattle ranch, married, and raised family. He died in 2014, aged 91.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Invasion fleet landing Allied troops on Morotai Island. Wikimedia

5. Japan’s Longest Holdout Was Teruo Nakamura

“The last of the last” Japanese holdouts was Teruo Nakamura, who outlasted the more famous Hiroo Onoda by a few months. Born in 1919 into an aboriginal tribe in Formosa, today’s Taiwan, which was a Japanese possession at the time, Nakamura was conscripted into a colonial unit, and posted to Morotai Island in today’s Indonesia, in 1944. American and Australian forces invaded the island soon after his arrival, and captured it, while inflicting heavy losses on the Japanese defenders. Nakamura was among the few Japanese survivors, and he fled into the jungle.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Morotai Island. Getty Images

4. Teruo Nakamura Was Well Suited to Hiding in the Jungle

By the time Japan surrendered, Nakamura and his remaining comrades were deep in Morotai’s jungle, cut off from communications with their chain of command, with no means of receiving official notice of war’s end. Like other holdouts, they dismissed airdropped leaflets, advising of war’s end, as fake news and enemy propaganda. Nakamura stayed with his steadily dwindling group until 1956, when he set off on his own and built himself a hut inside a small field that he hacked out of the rainforest, and in which he grew tubers and bananas to supplement his diet. His aboriginal tribal upbringing made him particularly self sufficient and capable of surviving in the wilds.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Teruo Nakamura. Alchetron

3. Teruo Nakamura Held Out Until December of 1974

Nakamura stayed hidden in the jungles of Morotai Island, isolated and alone, until a pilot spotted and reported his hut in mid 1974. That led the Japanese embassy to request the Indonesian military’s help in tracking him down, which it did, launching a search expedition later that year. Indonesian soldiers finally located and captured an emaciated Nakamura on December 18th, 1974, and flew him to Jakarta, where he received his first medical care in three decades.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Takasago Volunteers, Teruo Nakamura’s colonial unit. Wikimedia

2. Teruo Nakamura’s Holdout Earned Him No Love From the Japanese

In contrast to Hiroo Onoda whose holdout had ended a few months earlier, and who was lionized and celebrated as a paragon of conscientious devotion to duty, Nakamura garnered relatively little attention in Japan. Onoda was an ethnic Japanese citizen, while Nakamura had been a colonial soldier from what by 1974 had become the independent nation of Taiwan. Although he expressed a wish to be repatriated to Japan, Nakamura had no legal right to go there, and so was sent to Taiwan instead.

40 Facts About the Japanese Who Refused to Surrender After WWII Had Ended
Teruo Nakamura. Mike Dash History

1. Japan’s Longest Holdout Died Unappreciated and In Poverty

Teruo Nakamura, he had not been a member of the Imperial Japanese Army, but of a colonial unit. Under Japanese law, that meant he was not entitled to back pay or a pension or any of the benefits afforded IJA soldiers. While Hiroo Onoda had been awarded about U$160,000 by Japan, equivalent to nearly U$900,000 in 2018 dollars, Nakamura was awarded only U$227 – equivalent to about U$1250 in 2018 – for his three decades long holdout in service to Japan. Teuro Nakamura returned to Taiwan, where he died of lung cancer five years later, in 1979.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Guardian, The, May 28th, 2005 – 60 Years After the War Ends, Two Soldiers Emerge From the Jungle

YourStory –This soldier kept fighting WWII 29 years after it ended

How Stuff Works – Japanese Holdouts

Mike Dash History – Final Straggler: The Japanese Soldier Who Outlasted Hiroo Onoda

Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 10th, 2014 – Hiroo Onoda: Hero, or Villain?

BBC News, 17 January 2014 – Japan WW2 soldier who refused to surrender Hiroo Onoda

Wanpela – Lt Ei Yamaguchi

Warfare History Network – Operation Removal: Taking the Japanese Holdouts Near Saipan

Wikipedia – Japanese Holdout

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