Japanese World War II Holdouts
On this date in 1972, Shoichi Yokoi, one of the last Japanese holdouts from World War II was discovered hiding in Guam.
Here are some things you may not have known about Japanese holdouts, including Yokoi.
Corporal Shoichi Yokoi served in the 38th Regiment and arrived on Guam in February 1943. After the Americans captured Guam in 1944, Yokoi and nine other soldiers went into hiding. Seven of the 10 eventually left on their own, but three remained behind. The three lived on their own near each other until two of them died in a flood in 1964 after 20 years of hiding. Yokoi lived eight years by himself, hunting for food at night, and making clothing and other essentials from native plants.
In 1972, Yokoi was discovered by two local men checking their shrimp traps. Yokoi attacked them, apparently thinking his life was in danger, but was subdued and hauled out of the jungle.
When he returned to Japan he said, “It is with much embarrassment, but I have returned.” The phrase became a popular saying in Japan.
Yokoi had known since 1952 that the war was over, but preferred to remain in hiding rather than be embarrassed by surrendering.
He became a minor celebrity in Japan, and received $300 in back pay and a small pension.
He died in 1997 of a heart attack at the age of 82. He was buried under a headstone that his mother had originally bought in 1955 when he was first declared dead.
Three more confirmed Japanese holdouts were discovered in the following two years. One was killed in a shootout with Philippine police in October 1972.
Hiro Onoda, who was also hiding in the Philippines would only surrender if ordered to by a superior officer. In March 1974, his commanding officer during the war, now working as a bookseller, was flown to the Philippines to personally deliver the orders. Onoda died in 2014 at the age of 91.
The final documented Japanese holdout to be discovered was Teruo Nakamura, who was arrested in December 1974 in Indonesia. He died of lung cancer five years later at the age of 59.
Our question: On what American battleship was the Japanese surrender ceremony held?
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It’s the birthday of writer Edith Wharton, who was born in 1862; musician Neil Diamond, who is 76; and actor John Belushi, who was born in 1949.
Because we recently featured 1972, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.
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Weekly question: In the song “American Pie,” who is referred to as “The Jester”?
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