Hiroo Onoda Japanese Officer
On the 16th of January 2014, a 91 years old Japanese officer died in Tokyo which made headlines around the world.
Some did not understand the headlines. Why would the death of a military officer of the Japanese army be an important subject of interest when millions perished during World War II? Who was this person who made the news all over the world?
In 1944 and during World War II, a 20 year old young Japanese officer was deployed on the island of Lubang in the Philippines as part of a mission. His name was Hiroo Onoda, born to a poor family, a well-trained commando in deep forest fighting, sent to fight the American Army. After a period and in 1945, he and 4 other soldiers are assigned the defense of a military line.
As the War in 1945 ends with the surrender of Japan, the Philippines once again becomes under US control. However, Hiroo Onoda is not informed to cease military operations. Leaflets dropped by US planes over the Islands asking for the surrender of all Japanese troops are ignored by the young officer, who as all Japanese soldiers, are trained not to surrender and commit suicide if they come under treat from the enemy.
Hiroo Onoda and his few troops consider the US dropped leaflets as a bluff and continue their fight and during the years, resist surrender to the Philippines security forces. During their engagement, they kill 30 Philippines personnel and suffer fatal casualties themselves with only Onoda surviving and keeps on continuing his fight and avoiding surrender.
The locals informed the authorities numerous times about the fugitive who kept coming to the farms and stealing animals for food. Police forces chased him through the deep forests but failed to arrest him.
In 1974, a Japanese reporter, Noryo Suzuki, who hears the story, decides to head to the Philippines and look for the fugitive officer. After a while, Suzuki finds Onoda and tells him in Japanese that the war has long ended and he must put his arms down and follow him back to Japan. But Onoda at first is defiant, could not believe that the Japan serves for will ever surrender to the enemy and requests official orders from his commanders of World War II, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi and Major Takahashi.
Suzuki takes photos of him with Onoda as evidence of the story and publishes it in Japan. As a result search starts in Japan for the two World War II commanders and Major Taniguchi is found while Major Takahashi appears to have passed away. Major Taniguch heads to the Philippines with a an official delegation and reporters and the find Onoda on the 9th of March, 1974. Major Taniguchi gives Onoda orders of surrender and return to homeland Japan.
The Emperor of Japan, HiroHito honors him in his palace while media outlets around the world praise his courage quoting than only a Japanese soldier could show such bravery with dedication and determination.
After 30 years, Onoda returns to Japan with his Arisaka-99 rifle, grenades, his flag, the samurai sword and a dagger which his mother had given to him to commit suicide in case of surrender. He was greeted with hundreds of thousands citizens at the Tokyo airport as a war hero.
The moral of the story shows the distance a person can go to protect his identity, nation, leader and sacrifice his life for his sacred beliefs.
Onoda later publishes his memoirs titled No Surrender which receives world wide reception.
Written by Dr.paolo kazazian