Sunday, March 18, 2012
WWII Ended In 1974
He acted as if WWII was still going on in 1974.
His name is Hiroo Onoda and for him WWII ended not in 1945 but 1974, yes 1974. I once met a Swede who captured a colleague of Onoda.
However, Mr. Onoda was not the very last Japanese holdout. Teruo Nakamura gave up a few months after Onoda. But we are still talking about 1974. Then there are the reports from 1980 about one Fumio Nakahara...
But, at any rate, I reckon that today, in 2012, there is no living equal to Hiroo Onoda. His attitude was fanatical, to put it mildly. Nevertheless I am in awe about his long war, his survival skills and can recommend his autobiography. My favourite quote from it: "After 19 days at a Tokyo hospital, where over 200 tests were performed on me, it turned out that both my physical and mental health was far better than with Japanese of my age living in modern societies with dense population."
One of the reasons for my interest in Japanese holdouts is that there were some similar soldiers in the Baltic countries. I also had a personal encounter in the 1980s with a Swedish war veteran in Östersund (province of Jämtland in Sweden) who in 1948, as an officer of the US Navy, captured a colleague of Mr. Onoda. I mention the episode in Swedes at War and will return to it with more details in a future book.
Incidentally, the other day I found out that there is an online Japanese review of Swedes at War. From computer translations I gather it ends with a positive recommendation. Japanese-speaking readers of this post are most welcome to provide a proper quote...
Since I wrote this post in 2012 Hiroo Onoda has passed away, in early 2014. I have replaced the video that I linked to in 2012, as it was taken down on Youtube. The new video is, I think, better than the previous one.