Military Gear & Army Surplus Gear Blog

The WWII Japanese Soldier Who Didn’t Surrender Until 1974

The WWII Japanese Soldier Who Didn’t Surrender Until 1974

This video is brought to you by Skillshare. Hiroo Onoda – The Japanese soldier who didn’t surrender until 1974. Hiro Onoda was a Japanese intelligence officer in the imperial Japanese army who refused to surrender until decades after World War II had ended. In the Pacific theater there were many Japanese holdouts called Zanryū nipponhei, or “remaining Japanese soldiers.” They were motivated to continue on after the surrender of Japan in August 1945 because of their dogmatic, militaristic indoctrination, or simply because they were unaware of the surrender. Hiroo Onoda was trained at the Nakano School as an intelligence officer, where he was taught guerilla warfare and intelligence-gathering. Onoda was sent to Lubang Island, near Luzon, in the Philippines in late 1944, where he would soon meet up with a group of other Japanese soldiers already on the island. Major Yoshimi Taniguchi had given him orders to live off the land, and forbade him to die by his own hand. He would further reassure Officer Onoda by saying, “It may take three years, it may take five. but whatever happens, we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead them.” Higher-ranked officers made Onoda unable to carry out his mission to sabotage the enemy airstrip and pier at the harbor. This in turn made the U.S. conquest of the island, which was achieved in February 1945, easy. Once U.S. forces were on the island, the large group split up into smaller groups of 3-4 men and escaped into the jungle, and were either picked off by the U.S. troops or surrendered, until it was just Hiroo Onoda and three others under his command who were left active: Private Yuichi Akatsu, Corporal Shoichi Shimada, and Private First Class Kinshichi Kozuka, all of whom had set up base in the mountains. After Japan had formally surrendered in September 1945, Onoda and his group came across a number of leaflets. The first leaflet, left behind by locals, was discovered quite soon, reading, “The war ended on August 15th. Come down from the mountain!” However they concluded that it was an Allied propaganda trick. After this conclusion, the group continued to raid local islanders for food and other resources. General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Fourteenth Area Army also dropped leaflets from the air with a surrender order. But again, the group decided that they were a trick. With a lack of knowledge of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it may have seemed more unlikely that Japan was willing to surrender. In 1949, Yuichi Akatsu escaped from the group and surrended to Filipino forces in 1950, causing the remaining three to cautious to disloyalty. In 1952, the search mission was expanded with letters and pictures from the group’s families dropped from an aircraft, but again, this was written off as a trick by the three soldiers. Every piece of evidence the group came across increased their paranoia and hostilities. While they were dressed in their Imperial Japanese uniforms, the people they came across were in civilian clothing, which they interpreted as Allied soldiers in disguise with the strategy of luring them out. As a result, they didn’t think twice when firing on the locals. Corporal Shoichi Shimada was shot in the leg but recovered with the help of Onoda in 1953, but on May 7th, 1954, he was killed by a search party when he fired upon his potential rescuers, who returned fire on a beach at (???). Now just two remained. Onoda and Kozuka would continue the mission to sabotage, gather intelligence on, and attack the “enemy,” which no longer existed. But on October 19th, 1972 during a skirmish, Kozuka was shot and killed by the police when he was burning a farmer’s rice collection. Lieutenant Onoda was now alone. On February 20th, 1974, a determined Japanese explorer called Norio Suzuki found Onoda. Onoda still refused to surrender. However Suzuki had the idea to locate his original commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi. In March 1974 his former commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, traveled to the Philippines to fulfill his promise to return, and end his orders in person. Onoda, still wearing his tattered army uniform from decades ago, saluted the Japanese flag and handed over his samurai sword, his functioning Arisaka Type 99 rifle, several rounds of ammunition, hand grenades, and his family dagger. The Philippine government, under President Ferdinand Marcos, granted him a pardon, taking into consideration that although he had killed 30 innocent people during his campaign on the island, he thought the war was still carrying on. When he returned to Japan, Onoda was very popular. But he found it hard to adjust to the new post-war Japan, and the decay of its traditional values. He published an autobiography and in 1975 left Japan for Brazil, where he raised cattle and later opened a series of training schools. In his last years, Hiroo Onoda said in an interview: “Every Japanese soldier was prepared for death.” “But as an intelligence officer, I was ordered to conduct guerilla warfare and not to die.” “I became an officer, and I received an order. If I could not carry it out, I would feel shame.” “I am very competitive.” This video was made possible by Skillshare. Skillshare is an online learning community with more than 17,000 classes. Some of the apps that we use to bring Simple History to life are Adobe Illustrator for drawing characters and Premiere Pro for editing. Skillshare is a great place to learn these skills, and with premium access at less than $10 a month, you get unlimited access to high quality classes from experts. So Skillshare is giving the first 200 people using the promo link in the description below two months’ free access to try it out risk-free. Give it a shot!

Reader Comments

  1. Longer more detailed story episodes like these are made possible by our sponsors. Check out Skillshare it helps our channel immensely.

  2. Even im a filipino and my family has raided and killed by japanese during WWII i still salute to this guy

  3. Even im a filipino and my family has raided and killed by japanese during WWII i still salute to this guy

  4. He was fighting for so long so that means he was so loyal to his country. It’s very heart breaking to see soldier which is still fighting even if no orders were given, he just keeps fighting/defending because he knows what being a soldier really is. Big respect for him.

  5. So he was a living anime protagonist in denial after witnessing his entire school being blown up.

    Cool. If he were to still live, i'd ask him if he ever used the katana.

  6. Additional info: The soldier was actually spotted by the japanese explorer while digging for sweet potatoes. People back then here in my town knew about that because they accompanied the Explorer to the soldier's cave, but he was not there. But when they were going down the mountain, they saw him digging for sweet potatoes and was very skinny. Old folks here always talk about him.

  7. Fun fact: As a Filipino, President Ferdinand Marcos is a dictator who rule the Philippines for 21 years using Martial Law. Torture and Execution where common at that time.

  8. When you think about it, he would be Japan’s last Imperial soldier. The whole army dissolved after the surrender except them for not surrendering

  9. saya orang indonesia,saya suka nonton sejarah,dan apabila bikin video mohon untuk diberi translate indonesia, terima kasih

  10. After he returned to japan, he was given a huge sum for his services in the military for his retirement be he didn't accept. But after the government insisted he eventually took the money and just decided to donate it on charity. He also donated at least 10 thousand dollars on the same village he attacked for the misdeeds and troubles he made on that village and that money was at least was able to create a local school in the area.

  11. The Siege of Baler (Filipino: Pagkubkob sa Baler, Spanish: Sitio de Baler) (July 1, 1898 – June 2, 1899) was a battle of the Philippine Revolution and concurrently the Spanish–American War and the Philippine–American War. Filipino revolutionaries laid siege to a fortified church manned by colonial Spanish troops in the town of Baler, Philippines for 11 months, or 337 days.[5][3]

  12. This is one of the biggest face saving spins of all time. This guy was no hero, nothing could be further from the truth. He knew that the war had ended. You can see airplanes fly overhead that are international. Clearly Japan had lost the war or their would have only been Japanese planes flying overhead. And the island would have been occupied by the Japanese. This guy was a murderous coward and nothing more. He leached off the natives and murdered them.

  13. Genocide and the Philippines-American War. President Rodrigo Duterte and Neocolonialism

  14. GGR: ¿Cuál es, entonces, la verdad, Su Excelencia?

    SEÑOR AGUINALDO: El comienzo de la revolución filipina es trabajo de la Masonería; pero esa revolución terminó con el Pacto de Biacnabató. Los voluntarios filipinos ayudaron al Gobierno Español aquí a casi vencerme. Por eso, opté por firmar la paz mediante el Pacto de Biacnabató y opté por autoexiliarme a Hong Kong…

    GGR: y, ¿por qué aconteció la guerra con los Yanquis?

    SEÑOR AGUINALDO: Sencillamente porque me engañaron los Yanquis. Se acercaron a mi como hermanos masones urgiéndome en nombre de la Masonería internacional que vuelva a Filipinas para reorganizar la revolución contra España dándome su palabra de hermanos masones que tras liquidado en nuestras islas el Gobierno Español me otorgarían la independencia por la que luchamos.

    GGR: ¿Es que no han cumplido los Yanquis con su palabra de hermanos masones de darle a usted y a nuestro pueblo su libertad?

    SEÑOR AGUINALDO: ¡Nada de eso! Lea usted las Juntas Locales de Defensa que firmamos del Señor Apolinario Mabini. Le he pedido al Diputado Don Miguel Cuenco de Cebú que publique en los textos para la enseñanza del español ese decreto, esa proclama, que expedimos: las Juntas Locales de Defensa. Por eso que al llegar a Filipinas inmediatamente hice que se declare la independencia de Filipinas de España esperando que los Yanquis nos apoyen. Pero me traicionaron. ¡Nos traicionaron! En vez de apoyarnos como aliados nos provocaron la guerra muy adredemente porque su intención era robarnos la reserva en oro y plata que acumulamos en Malolos bajo la custodia del Gral. Antonio Luna y el Capitán Servillano Sevilla. Esa reserva vale más de mil millones de dólares y nos lo robaron al caer Malolos en manos de Arthur MacArthur. Y me persiguieron hasta Palanan, La Isabela, para capturarme. No se atrevieron a ejecutarme porque no les convenía hacer eso. Me quieren vivo para echarme la culpa del asesinato de Andrés Bonifacio y el de Antonio Luna.

  15. 4:50 Man, that must suck. As cool as it is to essentially see your homeland as an entirely new and improved place, Traditional Values gone can be pretty sad and weird, as it is in our culture, with the lack of traditional views of our current generation.

  16. Some say he was guarding one of the looted Gold of Yamashita. Some of it was turned over (to who?) After his surrerder. Came back in the early 90's to get the remaining and turned it over to *** . Well, he brought home of it.

  17. Lmao his commanding officer woke up one night decades later in a cold sweat “OH NO i forgot about that one guy!!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *