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Japanese Soldiers 60 years in Jungle!!

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  • Japanese Soldiers 60 years in Jungle!!

    <TABLE width="90%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD>Saturday May 28, 03:00 AM

    </TD><TD align=right></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=5 width="90%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD vAlign=top><BIG><BIG>Japanese soldiers' 60 years in the jungle</BIG></BIG>

    TWO men claimed to be Japanese soldiers who refused to surrender at the end of the Second World War could finally return home, 60 years later, after they were found living in the hills of a Philippine island.

    The soldiers, identified as Yoshio Yamakawa, 87, from Osaka, and Tsuzuki Nakauchi, 83, from Kochi, apparently want to lay down their weapons - or what remains of them.

    The two former members of the Imperial Japanese Army are believed to have spent the last six decades living in remote hills in the south of the Philippine island of Mindanao.

    They were due to meet Japanese diplomats yesterday who had hoped to verify their identities. But the meeting in the port town of General Santos was delayed by an intermediary until today after the island was besieged by local media after the story of the men's discovery appeared in the Japanese press.

    The meeting was being arranged by a member of a group that has been trying to trace wartime stragglers for more than a decade.

    Partly proud and partly shocked, Japan is trying to comprehend the 60 years of hardship that the two former members of the army's 30th Division must have endured before finally emerging.

    "I am sure that Japanese people will be very proud of these two men and what they have experienced, and I know that is how my father is feeling," said Kazuhiko Terashima, whose father heads the group trying to track down stray soldiers across the Philippines.

    Yoshihiko Terashima, 84, was himself stationed in the islands at the end of the war and was with a small group of soldiers who evaded the American forces in 1945 and continued fighting for another five years before finally surrendering.

    Members of his group phoned him from Mindanao on Thursday evening to tell him that the two men had said they wanted to come home.

    "For men in their eighties, it would have been very difficult to live and they have shown great spirit," Kazuhiko Terashima said. "The Japanese people will recognise that.

    "Perhaps younger people are not so interested in their story, but I'm sure that people in their fifties and older will want to know their thoughts and feelings," he said.

    Mr Terashima expects that in about a month the two veterans to be allowed to travel back home - to a country they will not recognise as the Japan of six decades ago.

    Reports of the men's experiences are sketchy and in part contradictory, with Mr Terashima suggesting his group had been led to the men's camp by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, who are also living a jungle existence as they battle with the Philippine army. Another report had one of the men married to a local woman.

    Officials in Japan confirmed that both men are listed here as missing, presumed dead.

    If they do turn out to be veterans of the conflict - and they are reportedly still in possession of documents that prove their identities - then the achievements of the last men to hold out against the end of the conflict pale into virtual insignificance.

    Another war veteran, Shoichi Yokoi, survived undetected in the jungles of Guam for 26 years before returning to Japan in 1972.

    And Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda was found hiding in the jungle of Lubang, also in the Philippines, in 1974, 30 years after being stationed there as an army intelligence officer. Told to continue guerrilla warfare against the Americans as the war drew to a close, he survived on coconuts and bananas and later told interviewers that he evaded "enemy patrols" that were actually search parties.

    In his book, No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War, Mr Onoda told of being summoned by his senior officer in December 1944 and given his orders.

    "You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand," Major Yoshimi Taniguchi told him. "It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we will come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him."

    Lt Onoda followed his orders to the absolute letter and led a group of four men, disregarding as Allied propaganda the leaflets dropped over the jungle claiming the war had ended.

    Newspapers were left in the open telling of the end of the war, and friends and relatives made announcements over loudspeakers into the jungle, all to no avail.

    One of the four men finally ran away in 1949 and surrendered to the authorities, while another man was shot dead in 1954 in a skirmish with locals . Lt Onoda's last remaining colleague was killed in 1972.

    Two years later, Major Taniguchi was located in Japan and travelled to the Philippines, where he waited at a spot in the jungle for Lt Onoda. After Major Taniguchi read out the order to cease all combat activity and that the war was over, Lt Onoda was unable to grasp the news.

    "We really lost the war?" was his first response, he wrote in his memoirs. "How could they have been so sloppy?"

    After returning to Japan, he found it impossible to adapt to the country and moved to Brazil where he ran a cattle farm. He later returned to Japan and set up an outward-bounds camp for children.

    Mr Yamakawa and Mr Nakauchi will inevitably suffer similar problems adjusting to life in Japan, but they are sure of a warm welcome.

    "These two soldiers kept to the rules laid down for Japanese soldiers for 60 years and have shown the incredible spirit of soldiers," said Mitsuhiro Kimura, director of the right-wing group Issuikai, which means One Water Society.

    "They have been brave and strong and inside their minds they have been able to think like soldiers for such a long time. When they return to Japan, I am sure that many people will go to Narita airport to welcome them," he said. "They have stayed true to their army functions and the Japanese people will respect them for that."

    Others agreed that the pair are likely to be met by large crowds on their return, but for a different reason. "Yes, I agree that there will be many people there, but I don't think they will be there to welcome them back; it will be more curiosity to see what they look like for themselves," said Kensuke Ebata, a defence analyst. He added that many questions need to be answered about whether the two men were aware the war had ended and opted to remain in the Philippines of their own free will. By: JULIAN RYALL -- 28-May-05
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  • #2
    wow now that is interesting

    talk about commitment
    وَأَن لَّيْسَ لِلإِنسَـنِ إِلاَّ مَا سَعَى



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