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Japanese holdouts or stragglers were Japanese soldiers in the Pacific Theatre who, after the August 1945 surrender of Japan that marked the end of World War II, either adamantly doubted the veracity of the formal surrender due to strong dogmatic or militaristic principles, or were not aware of it because communications were cut off by the United States island hopping campaign. They would continue to fight occupying forces, and later, local police, years after the war was over.

Intelligence officer Hiroo Onoda, who surrendered on Lubang Island in the Philippines in March 1974, and Teruo Nakamura, who surrendered on the Indonesian island of Morotai in December 1974, appear to have been the last confirmed holdouts.

Contents

Japanese Army stragglers after the end of World War II

1945-1949

  • In June 1945 a Major Sato with his aide, his orderly and a band of 33 Japanese soldiers surrendered to Marine General Graves B. Erskine. The island had been swept by Marine patrols for about a year. The 9th AAA Bn. had been very successful in cleaning out the underbrush of Japanese holdout troops. The 3rd Marine Division was also active but no information on success rate. Sato met to talk over surrender and then went back into the bush for a week before the final surrender.
  • Captain Sakae Ōba, who led his company of 46 men in guerrilla actions against US troops following the Battle of Saipan, did not surrender until December 1, 1945, three months after the war ended.
  • Lieutenant Ei Yamaguchi and his 33 soldiers emerged on Peleliu in late March 1947, attacking the Marine detachment stationed on the island. Reinforcements were sent in, along with a Japanese admiral who was able to convince them the war was over. They finally surrendered in April 1947.
  • Yamakage Kufuku and Matsudo Linsoki, two IJN machine gunners, surrendered on Iwo Jima on January 6, 1949.

1950s

  • Private 1st Class Yūichi Akatsu continued to fight on Lubang Island from 1944 until surrendering in the Philippine village of Looc  on March 1950.[1]
  • Corporal Shōichi Shimada continued to fight on Lubang until he was killed in a clash with Philippine soldiers in May 1954.[2]

1960s

  • Private Bunzō Minagawa held out from 1944 until May 1960 on Guam.[3]
  • Sergeant Tadashi Itō, Minagawa's superior, surrendered days later, May 23, 1960 on Guam.[4]

1970s

  • Corporal Shoichi Yokoi, who served under Ito, was captured on Guam in January 1972.[5]
  • Private 1st Class Kinshichi Kozuka held out with Onoda for 28 years until he was killed in a gunbattle with Philippine police in October 1972.[6]
  • Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, who held out from December 1944 until March 1974 on Lubang Island in the Philippines with Akatsu, Shimada and Kozuka, surrendered to his former commanding officer in March 1974.[7]
  • Private Teruo Nakamura was discovered by the Indonesian Air Force on Morotai, and surrendered to a search patrol on December 18, 1974.[8]

In popular culture

  • One episode of the American TV comedy Gilligan's Island revolves around a Japanese sailor and his mini-sub; the Skipper (Alan Hale, Jr.) remarks how every few years, a Japanese is found who doesn't know the war is over.
  • One episode of the American TV comedy Northern Exposure features a Japanese businessman who pretends to be a holdout until his business textbooks are discovered.
  • An episode of The Six Million Dollar Man finds Col. Steve Austin being held prisoner by a Japanese holdout. Steve uses his Polaroid camera to take an instant photo of his captor, in an attempt to prove to him how far the world has moved on, and notes the Made in Japan label on the device.
  • A Bud Spencer and Terence Hill movie, A Friend Is a Treasure, is about a hunt for a treasure left by the Japanese Army on a small island. Two Japanese soldiers still resist on the island.
  • The second episode of 1979 TV series Salvage 1, Shangri-la Lil, centers on the accidental discovery (and reintegration) of a Japanese Holdout.
  • The 1980 film The Last Flight of Noah's Ark featured two elderly Japanese soldiers who have lived on an uncharted island for 35 years.
  • The album Nude (1981) by the British rock band Camel reworked the story, with a twist – after returning to 'civilisation', the soldier was so appalled by what society had become that he later disappeared, presumed headed back to the peace and serenity of his island.
  • One level in the computer game Metal Slug 3 has the player fight through an underground hideout held by bearded, emaciated Japanese soldiers. Their desperate condition is hinted at by their lack of clothing and firearms, and the fact that their tanks and airplanes are entirely hand-powered.

See also

Other nations:

References

  1. ^ "Three Jap Stragglers Hold Out on Tiny Isle," The Lima (O.) News, April 8, 1952, p5
  2. ^ "Onoda Home; 'It Was 30 Years on Duty'," Pacific Stars and Stripes, March 14, 1974, p7
  3. ^ "Japanese Soldier Finds War's Over," Oakland Tribune, May 21, 1960, p1
  4. ^ "Straggler Reports to Emperor," Pacific Stars and Stripes, June 8, 1960, p1
  5. ^ Kristof, Nicholas D. "Shoichi Yokoi, 82, Is Dead; Japan Soldier Hid 27 Years," New York Times. September 26, 1997.
  6. ^ "The Last PCS for Lieutenant Onoda," Pacific Stars and Stripes, March 13, 1974, p6
  7. ^ "Onoda Home; 'It Was 30 Years on Duty'," Pacific Stars and Stripes, March 14, 1974, p7
  8. ^ "The Last Last Soldier?," TIME, January 13, 1975

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