Jungle Hideaway

On January 24, 1972, sergeant Shoichi Yokoi, a soldier in the Imperial Japanese Army, was surprised and captured in Guam by two American hunters. For 27 years he had been hiding in a jungle cave, refusing to believe leaflets declaring that World War II had ended.

"It is with much embarrassment that I have returned alive," he said upon his return to Japan, carrying his rusted rifle (a remark which became a popular saying).

Mr. Yokoi, who had also prepared a speech of regret for his emperor, received the equivalent of $300 in back pay and a tiny pension. Months later, the sergeant told a Japanese journalist that he had in fact had a deeply personal reason for remaining isolated:

"I had a tough childhood, among many unkind relatives," he explained. "I stuck to the jungle because I wanted to get even with them."

[Yokoi, who died in 1997, became an impassioned advocate of austerity and a regular commentator on Japanese TV. In 1974, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, the last Imperial Japanese holdout, was discovered in the Philippines. He said he wouldn't return to Japan unless his old commanding officer personally withdrew the order to continue fighting. Authorities managed to find the lieutenant's superior. The man, working as a Kyushu bookseller, was flown to Lubang, where he read out an Imperial Army order of 1945. Noted writer Inada Nada said: "If Mr. Yokoi were a Robinson Crusoe, then Mr. Onoda surely was a Don Quixote." Mr. Onoda's older brother, waiting to greet him, said: "I don't know whether to shout 'You damn fool!' or 'Well done.' " Despite his hero's reception, he later emigrated to Brazil. "I just couldn't adjust to Japan," he explained.]

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