If we were to describe the Japanese mindset in one word, discipline might be a more appropriate term for it. If anyone, Hiroo Onoda, a soldier in the Japanese army, is living proof of that.
While fighting during World War II, Onoda did not leave the point his commander assigned him decades after the end of the war, and he waited to serve until waiting for the next instructions.
He spent 29 years in the woods
World War II was coming to an end when Onoda began his strange long exile. Written in 1944 when it was sent to Lubang, one of the smaller islands in the Philippines. As a squadron commander, he was assigned the mission to spy on American forces, in no way surrendered, and patiently waited for the arrival of other Japanese soldiers. He arrived with a third.
Fortunately, he managed to avoid being captured and found the perfect hideout with his companions deep in the jungle. While they were hiding there, other Japanese soldiers surrendered to the incoming Americans or withdrew from the island.
He slowly lost his comrades. The first soldier fled in 1950. It was learned in Japan that there were still soldiers in the woods who had no idea the war was over for several years. To inform them, chainsaws from planes littered the forest.
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Although the banknote also fell into the hands of the squadron leader, he was more suspicious of them. He believed that the sticky notes had been strewn by the enemy, a bit of a bluff to move and knock them out of their mission. He continued to constantly monitor US military bases and keep fighting. During his stay, about 30 civilians and soldiers were killed.
Despite the post’s failure, Manila and Tokyo did not stop looking for a band hiding in the jungle, but after nine years they abandoned it because they believed there might not be soldiers alive anymore. But in 1972 it turned out that they were not dead: that year, Onodas organized another movement and attacked. Onoda also lost his last soldiers and was left completely alone, but he did not give up the fight: he followed the instructions of his commander issued nearly thirty years ago.
Onoda (right) and his brother.
Upon learning what had happened, Japan sent a search team into the jungle to find and enlighten a WWII soldier. Despite his success in finding it, Onoda has proven itself inexhaustible. He was later met by a civilian traveler who also tried to make him understand that World War II was long overdue. But the steadfast soldier announced that he had arrived on the orders of his commander and would not leave the specified point unless he was told to do so.
There was nothing to do, so they turned to the former commander who was running a library at the time. He put on his worn out old military uniform, and arrived at the scene, where he called the loyal soldier to surrender. Onoda did that.
Onoda, on the day of his return, as soon as he hands his samurai sword over to the president of the Philippines.
After returning home
When Onoda returned home, he received a well-deserved tribute to the hero, but was forced to take responsibility for the many, many extinct human lives. He received a pardon from the Philippine government. He only returned to Lubang later, in 1996, as relatives of his victims demanded compensation.
In 1975 he went to Brazil, where he established a cattle farm. In 1984, he founded an organization, Onoda Shizenjyukut, where he taught young Japanese the survival practices he used during his time on Lubang Island. He also wrote a book about his long service in 2007. The most resilient Japanese soldier died in 2014 at the age of 91 in a Tokyo hospital.
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