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The last WWII Japanese soldier to surrender dead at 91

The last WWII Japanese soldier to surrender dead at 91

A Japanese soldier who refused to surrender at the end of World War II and hid in the jungles of the Philippines for 29 years has died at the age of 91 in Tokyo.

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Hiroo Onoda, a lieutenant who evaded capture after the war and ignored flyers dropped in the jungle explaining that the war was over, was finally enticed to surrender when his former commanding officer traveled to the Philippines to relieve him of his military duties in 1974.

Dressed in a battered army uniform that he maintained as best he could out in the jungle, Onoda surrendered his sword almost three decades after his country surrendered. Onoda survived on food that he was able to gather in the jungle, along with food he stole from local farmers. He received a hero’s welcome in Japan as he entered a world of post-war modernity.

“Every Japanese soldier was prepared for death, but as an intelligence officer I was ordered to conduct guerrilla warfare and not to die,” Onoda told journalists after his surrender. “I had to follow my orders as I was a soldier.”

OnadaLaterLifeOnoda was not viewed positively by the Philippines who blamed him for several unsolved killings. When Onoda returned to that country in 1996, he was confronted by the relatives of his alleged victims who demanded compensation. Onoda had previously received a full pardon for any crimes by the Philippines government.

Onoda relocated to Brazil in 1975 to set up a cattle ranch. In 1984, he founded an organization called Onoda Shizenjyuku, to train young Japanese in the survival and camping skills he had acquired during his decades in the Lubang jungles.

His adventures are detailed in his book “No Surrender: My Thirty-year War.”

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