ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on January 17th, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Is Hiroo Onoda A Great Japanese Soldier or A War Criminal?

» by in: Japan

It is pretty amazing how long this guy was able to hold out:

In this March 1974 file photo, Hiroo Onoda, wearing his 30-year-old Japanese imperial army uniform, cap and sword, walks down a slope as he heads for a helicopter landing site on Lubang Island, Philippines, for a flight to Manila after coming out of hiding in the jungle on the island. [Stars & Stripes]

A Japanese soldier who hid in the Philippine jungle for three decades, refusing to believe World War II was over until his former commander returned and ordered him to surrender, has died in Tokyo aged 91.

Hiroo Onoda waged a guerilla campaign in Lubang Island near Luzon until he was finally persuaded in 1974 that peace had broken out, ignoring leaflet drops and successive attempts to convince him the Imperial Army had been defeated.

He died in a Tokyo hospital on Thursday of heart failure.

Onoda was the last of several dozen so-called holdouts scattered around Asia, men who symbolised the astonishingly dogged perseverance of those called upon to fight for their emperor.

Their number included a soldier arrested in the jungles of Guam in 1972.  [AFP]

You can read much more at the link, but I have mixed feelings about the guy because he definitely showed some warrior ethos, but he was also responsible for killing up to 30 Filipino civilians over the years fighting his private little war.  Former Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos agreed to pardon the guy before he surrendered to his commanding officer.  Shouldn’t killing civilians be considered a war crime?  It makes me wonder if he was more motivated with not being arrested by Filipino authorities for his murders than he was for fighting on for the Emperor?

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  • King Baeksu
    9:40 pm on January 17th, 2014 1

    From today’s New York Times: “In Manila, the lieutenant, wearing his tattered uniform, presented his sword to President Marcos, who pardoned him for crimes committed while he thought he was at war.”

    Say what you will about Marcos, at least he showed enough maturity and statesmanship here as a leader to “forgive and move on,” rather than turning Hiroo into a political football like one or two other countries in the region that I can think of most likely would have.

  • Avatar of Leon LaPorteLeon LaPorte
    10:15 pm on January 17th, 2014 2

    2. Agreed, plus the famous Japanese holdouts (残留日本兵 Zanryū nipponhei?, “remaining Japanese soldiers”) made great plot devices in shows like Gilligan’s Island, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and The Six Million Dollar Man. The entertainment value of just these three examples easily justifies 30 some odd deaths.

  • Mike Morgan (setnaffa)
    10:18 pm on January 17th, 2014 3

    Yes, he was technically a war hero *and* a war criminal. I don’t celebrate his life or death. He’s gone. Let his memory be buried with him.

  • Dr. Smith
    10:59 pm on January 17th, 2014 4

  • ChickenHead
    2:37 am on January 18th, 2014 5

    I don’t know.

    I have always suspected this to be almost an urban legend. Sure, it happened… buuut… it certainly didn’t happen in the way it is promoted.

  • Glans
    12:53 pm on January 18th, 2014 6

    Words of wisdom from Onoda Hiroo’s book “No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War”:

    “Men should never compete with women. If they do, the guys will always lose. That is because women have a lot more endurance. My mother said that, and she was so right.”

    quoted by CNN.

    Head says, ” … it certainly didn’t happen in the way it is promoted.” I have to agree. For example, Dr. Smith’s ABC report says Onada had a short-wave radio, and used to listen to Australia’s Japanese-language broadcasts. Then he must have known that the war was over and that his command has surrendered.

  • King Baeksu
    5:16 pm on January 18th, 2014 7

    “king baeksu, die painfully thx.”

    Lol, you’re definitely killing me.

  • Tim Norris - nandupress
    12:26 pm on January 20th, 2014 8

    Well, just finished another book on WWII and the Pacific War, A. Beevor’s epic, which I highly recommend. In that light, the extent of war crimes in Asia that were not punished still leaves us with ongoing problems, like the many committed by the Imperial General Staff. Most got away with the types of medical experimentations, cannibalism, and outright crimes against humanity, that punishing one hanger on would have seemed sad in comparison.

  • Dragonfly
    4:16 pm on January 20th, 2014 9

    How much back pay did he have coming?

    He killed 30 civilians when there was an obvious cessation of hostilities and a complete lack of other Japanese soldiers? Where did he think they went? He should have been hung instead of idolized.

  • Ole Tanker
    7:42 pm on January 20th, 2014 10

    I read his book in the 70′s. A good read as I recall. Those guys were dedicated, if not brainwashed. The war hadn’t ended for him. At least he camped in the jungle, German soldiers rotted and died in Russian camps years after ther war.


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