Exposing Some of the Meanest and Pettiest Men in History
Exposing Some of the Meanest and Pettiest Men in History

Exposing Some of the Meanest and Pettiest Men in History

Khalid Elhassan - January 20, 2021

Exposing Some of the Meanest and Pettiest Men in History
Hiroo Onoda surrendering his sword to President Ferdinand Marcos. Wikimedia

2. The Unrepentant Maniac Who Got Away With Murder

It was the narrative of Onoda as a heroic holdout that took hold and captured the public imagination in Japan and around the world. The more troubling reality that Onoda was a homicidal maniac was downplayed or ignored. His decades-long crime spree in Lubang, which could have gotten him the death penalty for multiple murders, was instead swept under the rug by the authorities. At the time, the Philippines was ruled by dictator Ferdinand Marcos, a notoriously corrupt kleptomaniac. Marcos was eager for good relationships – and financial support and investments offering opportunities for graft – with Japan.

As a result, the fiction that Onoda did not know that the war had ended in 1945 was accepted as fact when it was anything but. President Ferdinand Marcos granted him a full pardon that was broadcast in a televised ceremony. In true jerk fashion, Onoda never apologized or expressed remorse for stealing the food and burning the crops of poor Lubangese, or for murdering dozens of innocent civilians in the island. Understandably, that did not sit well with the people of Lubang. When Onoda revisited the island in 1996, his return was surrounded by controversy.

Exposing Some of the Meanest and Pettiest Men in History
Hiroo Onoda in his Brazilian cattle ranch. Observer

1. A Jerk Who Murdered Dozens, Then Lived a Long and Happy Life in Peace and Comfort

Back home, Hiroo Onoda was so popular that he was urged to run for the Diet – Japan’s national legislature. However, he had trouble fitting in. A militarist through and through who thought the war had been a sacred mission, Onoda was unable to come to terms with the pacifist and futuristic country to which he had returned. Japan and its culture in the 1970s were radically different from what he had known growing up, and Onoda was troubled by what he saw as a withering away of traditional Japanese values. So troubled, that he decided to leave the country.

Within a year of returning to Japan, Onoda followed the example of his older brother, and emigrated to Brazil. There, he bought a ranch in Mato Grosso do Sul, and settled down to raise cattle. He tied the knot in 1976, fathered a family, and assumed a leading role in the local Japanese émigré community. He returned to Japan in 1980, where his wife turned to right wing politics and headed a conservative Japanese women’s association. Throughout much of his remaining life, Onoda returned to Brazil every year for about three months. He died of heart failure in 2014, aged 91.


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

Arab America – Al Mutanabbi: The Greatest Arab Poet

Cracked – Howard Hughes Bought a Major Studio… to Ruin His Ex-Girlfriend’s Career

Crime Traveler – Homicidal Sleepwalking: To Kill While Asleep

Doyle, David W. – Inside Espionage: A Memoir of True Men and Traitors (2000)

Encyclopedia Britannica – Al Mutanabbi

Encyclopedia Britannica – Andrey Andreyevich Vlasov

Encyclopedia Britannica – Pierre Laval

Frondorf, Shirley – Death of a Jewish American Princess: The True Story of a Victim on Trial (1988)

How Stuff Works – Japanese Holdouts

Los Angeles Times, August 28th, 2001 – Jane Greer, Star of Film Noir ‘Out of the Past’

Maas, Peter – Killer Spy: The Inside Story of the FBI’s Pursuit and Capture of Aldrich Ames (1995)

Madelung, Wilferd – Medieval Isma’ili History and Thought: The Fatimids and the Qarmatis of Bahrayn (1996)

New York Times, October 9th, 1988 – The Defense Pleaded Nagging

Onoda, Hiroo – No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War (1999)

Orkneyjar – Earl Sigurd the Mighty, the First Earl of Orkney

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

Thorwald, Jurgen – The Illusion: Soviet Soldiers in Hitler’s Armies (1974)

Time Magazine, October 15th, 1945 – Devil’s Advocate

Wikipedia – Japanese Holdout