Japanese Soldier Who Missed the End of WWII by Three Decades Dies

"I am very competitive," he said

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A Japanese soldier who continued fighting World War II decades after it had ended died on Friday at the age of 91.

Hiroo Onoda remained locked in active duty on Lubang Island in the Philippines for 29 years. He monitored military sites, clashed with local residents and dismissed all news of Japan’s surrender as an enemy ploy.

Not until 1974, when his aged commander personally came to the island to relieve him of duty, did Onoda agree to pack it in. “I am very competitive,” said Onoda in a 2010 interview. It would make an understated epitaph.

[BBC]

12 comments
riceeisnicee
riceeisnicee

I hate the fact that he's smiling to something which is a universal sin. The nazis did do a lot of bad things, the holocaust, killing countless innocent people....but they've apologized of their actions and they made up with what they've done! As a patriotic Korean, I'm well looking for the day when Japan would just apologize to the several countries they've hurt mentally and economically.. But from the looks of it, as well as this 91 year old man smiling saying he's "very competitive?" I don't think the Japanese are every going to follow their conscientious just as the Nazis. Ninjas may sound awesome and all but their just obsolete assassins and thieves, worse than the Vikings and pirates. People, stop romantacizing that Japan has done great humanitarian things, face the facts and help support!!!

EJ
EJ

What is Time.com doing showing a Japanese Imperial soldier smiling and declaring him a hero by Japan?  All of the sudden he's a good guy?  Would they have run such an article if this 91 year old was a Nazi solider?

manstrato
manstrato

I remember this story from when I was a kid.  But upon rehearing it I find myself wondering about the killing of civilians that he did while evading capture.  I was a USAF pilot in the 1980s.  At that time we were told that purposely killing a civilian was a crime that we would likely be tried for if captured by an enemy.  Even stealing, or the violation of any other law,  even while evading capture, was considered to be a legitimately illegal activity that we would face charges for if captured.


So the question is, why wasn't this guy tried by the US of Philippine authority when captured?  Was it just cold war politics (not wanting to anger the Japanese), or the fact that Japan wasn't a signatory to the Geneva Conventions, or did the world simply not care anymore about some crazy guy in the Philippines who was stealing and killing to stay alive? 

tsvskibum
tsvskibum

@riceeisnicee This is a story about a soldier not Imperial Japan. Onoda-san was an observer. He did not commit war crimes. He was not given immoral or illegal orders, though the orders he chose to follow were followed to the letter. He may have been foolish but what does his actions have to do with whether the Government of Japan has apologized for their aggression in world war two?  The current leaders of Japan, were either not born at the end of the war or just children.  It was to the leaders of Japan who lived during the war,  participated therein and possibly helped commit war crime to apologize for Japan's actions.  The sin is to the father not child.

Francis88
Francis88

@EJ There are always two sides to a story EJ. I came from the Philippines and I understand that this guy has killed many innocent lives. Granted that he believed that we are still in a state of war. But in away you also have to admire him for his dedication and commitment to his country...virtues that is rare to have these days.


Personally I think it is just right for the country to have pardoned him. We need to move forward from the past and not let our hate take over what the future has for us. I have many Japanese friends who were not even alive during the war still feel sorry and regretful for what their country has done to mine. 

wii_wonder
wii_wonder

Manstrato, I think the Philippine government was happy to get rid of him, At that time, we have a trading relation with Japan. War has ended 30 years before. I don't think you want to spend money prosecuting the guy and putting him in jail.

HumphreyChimpdenEarwicker
HumphreyChimpdenEarwicker

@Francis88@EJ - "dedication and commitment to his country".  Sorry - a similar dedication and commitment led to the slaughter of six million Jews, and countless millions more in Europe.


Please, spare me that commitment...

manstrato
manstrato

@wii_wonder I imagine you are right.  This guy was alone, probably more or less insane from stress and a lack of human contact, and he had a tenacity that people tend to admire.  Though he may well have been in a lot of trouble if the authorities decided to prosecute, I think everyone involved was feeling like he had been through enough.


I was just making the point that what he did was illegal under international law, but at the end of the day the law is only the law if someone decides to prosecute.

sv1ktor
sv1ktor

@MrZaborskii @jcq707 @manstrato I don't think at the time he was deployed to war, he was operating under the same laws you were made aware of in the 80s. It would be unfair to judge him under a set of laws implemented years after he had gone to war and was never made aware of..