4. The Men Who Kept Up the Fight After World War II Had Ended
Some Japanese military personnel were true believers in their country’s claims that the war was fought to free fellow Asians from European colonialism. So they stayed behind when their comrades marched off to internment camps, and joined nationalist anticolonial movements such as the Viet Minh. Others suffered what would be diagnosed today as a post-traumatic stress disorder, snapped, and acted irrationally due to mental instability. And some were simply jerks, who could not swallow their pride and admit that all the wartime suffering and sacrifice had been for nothing, and accept the fact that they had been beaten. Whatever their motives, thousands of Japanese failed to surrender after the war had officially ended.
The majority of holdouts did not hold out for long. Within a few months, most were convinced that the war had ended. So they stacked their arms and turned themselves into the nearest Allied forces, or if unable to face the humiliation of surrender, committed suicide. Others were cut off from supplies of food and medicine, starved to death or succumbed to illness. Others were tracked down by Allied or native forces and killed. However, a tiny minority held out for far longer, continued the war and eluded capture or death for years – in some cases, for decades. As seen below, the first remarkable holdout feat took place in Saipan.