Worthy Enemies

The last Japanese soldier to come out of the Philippine jungle in 1974, dies in Japan at the age of 91. Clearly, it was a good day to die.

 

The last Japanese soldier to come out of hiding and surrender, almost 30 years after the end of the second world war, has died.

Hiroo Onoda, an army intelligence officer, caused a sensation when he was persuaded to come out of hiding in the Philippine jungle in 1974.

The native of Wakayama prefecture in western Japan died of heart failure at a hospital in Tokyo on Thursday, his family said. He was 91.

Onoda’s three decades spent in the jungle – initially with three comrades and finally alone – came to be seen as an example of the extraordinary lengths to which some Japanese soldiers would go to demonstrate their loyalty to the then emperor, in whose name they fought.

Refusing to believe that the war had ended with Japan’s defeat in August 1945, Onodo drew on his training in guerilla warfare to kill as many as 30 people whom he mistakenly believed to be enemy soldiers.

 

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