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ASIA / PACIFIC
Page 4 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
February 3, 2014
Japan’s last World War II
straggler dies at age 91
By Elaine Kurtenbach
The Associated Press
OKYO — Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka says
he chose to play for the New York Yankees because
they appreciated him the most.
Speaking in Japan after agreeing to a $155-million,
seven-year deal with the Yankees, Tanaka said, “They
gave me the highest evaluation and are a world-famous
Tanaka said he was “relieved” the deal was done and
looked forward to standing on the mound at Yankee
In addition to the personal deal with Tanaka, the
Yankees must pay a $20 million fee to his Japanese team,
the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
His agreement calls for $22 million in each of the first
six seasons and $23 million in 2020, and it allows him to
terminate the deal after the 2017 season and become a
OKYO — Hiroo Onoda, the last Japanese imperial
soldier to emerge from hiding in a jungle in the
Philippines and surrender, 29 years after the end
of World War II, has died. He was 91 years old.
Onoda died last month at a Tokyo hospital after a brief
stay. Chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga
expressed his condolences, praising Onoda for his strong
will to live and indomitable spirit.
“After World War II, Mr. Onoda lived in the jungle for
many years and when he returned to Japan, I felt that
finally, the war was finished. That’s how I felt,” Suga said.
Onoda was an intelligence officer who came out of
hiding, erect but emaciated, in fatigues patched many
times over, on Lubang island in the Philippines in March
1974, on his 52nd birthday. He surrendered only when his
former commander flew there to reverse his 1945 orders to
stay behind and spy on American troops.
Onoda and another World War II holdout, Sgt. Shoichi
Yokoi, who emerged from the jungle in 1972, received
massive heroes’ welcomes upon returning home.
Before and during the war, Japanese were taught
absolute loyalty to the nation and the emperor. Soldiers in
the Imperial Army observed a code that said death was
preferable to surrender.
Onoda refused to give up, despite at least four searches
during which family members appealed to him over
loudspeakers and flights dropped leaflets urging him to
In his formal surrender to Philippine President
Ferdinand Marcos, Onoda wore his 30-year-old imperial
army uniform, cap, and sword, all still in good condition.
After the initial sensation of his return home wore off,
Onoda bought a ranch in Brazil. He later was head of a
children’s nature school in northern Japan.
“I don’t consider those 30 years a waste of time,” Onoda
said in a 1995 interview with The Associated Press.
“Without that experience, I wouldn’t have my life today.”
Still, he showed a great zeal for making up for years lost.
“I do everything twice as fast so I can make up for the 30
years,” Onoda said. “I wish someone could eat and sleep
for me so I can work 24 hours a day.”
The son of a teacher, Onoda worked for a Japanese
trading firm in Shanghai after finishing high school in
1939. Three years later, he was drafted and trained at a
In December 1944, he was sent to Lubang, about 90
miles southwest of Manila. Most other Japanese soldiers
surrendered when U.S. troops landed on Lubang in
February 1945, though hundreds remained missing for
years after the war.
Siefman & Pond w Attorneys at Law
SEVEN-YEAR DEAL. Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka throws a
ball during a morning workout at the indoor training facility of the Rakuten
Golden Eagles in Sendai, northeastern Japan. The New York Yankees
capped an offseason spending spree by agreeing to a $155-million,
seven-year contract with prized 25-year-old righthander Tanaka. (AP
Tanaka says Yankees
appreciated him most
By Jim Armstrong
AP Sports Writer
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DETERMINED SOLDIER. In this March 1974 file photo, Hiroo
Onoda, wearing his 30-year-old imperial army uniform, cap, and sword,
walks down a slope while heading for a helicopter landing site on Lubang
Island for a flight to Manila after coming out of hiding in the jungle on the
island in the Philippines. Onoda, the last Japanese imperial soldier to
emerge from hiding and surrender after World War II, has died. He was
91 years old. Onoda passed away January 16, 2014 at a Tokyo hospital.
As he struggled to feed himself, Onoda’s mission
became one of survival. He stole rice and bananas from
local people down the hill, and shot their cows to make
dried beef, triggering occasional skirmishes.
The turning point came on February 20, 1974, when he
met a young globetrotter, Norio Suzuki, who ventured to
Lubang in pursuit of Onoda.
Suzuki quietly pitched his camp in lonely jungle
clearings and waited. “Oi,” Onoda eventually called out,
and began speaking with him.
Suzuki returned to Japan and contacted the govern-
ment, which located Onoda’s superior — Maj. Yoshimi
Taniguchi — and flew him to Lubang to deliver his
surrender order in person.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.
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