Friday, 6 February 2015

Yuichi Akatsu

The story of a man who fought WWII for full 29 years after the Japanese surrendered, because he didn't know the war was over. 

On December 26th, 1944, Hiroo Onoda was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines. His orders from his commanding officers, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, were simple:

"You are absolutely forbidden to die by your own hand. It may take three years, it may take five, but whatever happens, we’ll come back for you. Until then, so long as you have one soldier, you are to continue to lead him. You may have to live on coconuts. If that’s the case, live on coconuts! Under no circumstances are you [to] give up your life voluntarily. 

He took these words more seriously then it was actually meant. 

In February 1945, US troops landed on Lubang while Most Japanese soldier surrendered some split into groups and headed into jungle. Many of these groups were killed off but Onoda and his men (Yuichi Akatsu, Siochi Shimada, and Kinshichi Kozuka) continued to use guerrilla warfare tactics to harry the enemy troops as best they could. 

Several attempts where made to get back the soldiers in hiding. Leaflet after leaflet were dropped. Newspapers were left. Photographs and letters from relatives were dropped. Friends and relatives spoke out over loudspeakers. They kept scrutinizing every bit of it and there was always something suspicious, so they never believed that the war had really ended. 

After about 5 years , Yuichi Akatsu decided to surrender without the knowledge of others. He surrendered to whom he believed to be the allied troops. This only made the rest of the men even more cautious and went deeper into hiding. After another 5 years, Siochi Shimada was killed too.

For nearly 20 years , Kozuka and Onoda continued to live in the jungle together, awaiting the time when they would again be needed by the Japanese army. After all the order of their division commander, was to remain behind enemy lines and gather intelligence to be able to train Japanese troops in guerrilla warfare in order to regain the Philippine islands.

Onoda refused to surrender until 1972, when his Major Taniguchi(then retired) was brought back to the island to tell him that Japan had lost the war and he was to give up his weapons and surrender to the Filipinos.

After 29 years in hiding Onoda walked out with his 30 year old riffle and military uniform - both well maintained. 

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