Skip to comments.2 Suspected War(WWII) Stragglers Found in R.P. (2 More Said to Be Alive- Japanese Reports)
Posted on 05/27/2005 12:19:54 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Two men believed to be former soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army have been found on Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines, the Japanese Embassy in Manila reported Thursday.
The embassy sent three officials to the southern Mindanao city of General Santos on Friday, who were to meet later in the day with the two men to determine whether they were Japanese stragglers.
But the meeting was pushed back to Saturday at the earliest when the two men learned the meeting venue was ringed by about 30 members of the press.
The embassy officials suggested a location out of the eye of the media, but the proposal went unanswered by the mediator for the two men. It was not immediately known if the two men were aware that the war was over.
The men reportedly want to return to Japan, an embassy spokesman said.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said the two men are believed to be Yoshio Yamakawa, 87, from Nishi Ward, Osaka, and Tsuzuki Nakauchi, 85, from Meijimura, now Ochicho, in Kochi Prefecture. Both belonged to the 30th Regiment of the 30th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army.
The division was dispatched to Mindanao Island in 1944 during World War II. Yamakawa was a lieutenant and Nakauchi was a corporal, the ministry said.
Presuming that the two men are confirmed to be former Japanese soldiers, it will be the first time anyone in Japan has heard of them in nearly 60 years. They also would be the first Japanese stragglers to be found in the Philippines since 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda was found in the jungle of Lubang Island in 1974. The 83-year-old former Imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer now lives in Brazil. In 1972, another Japanese World War II straggler, Shoichi Yokoi, was found on Guam. He returned to Japan and died in 1997.
Mindanao Island is racked by an insurgency led by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Ministry officials and members of a Japanese organization for the war dead said a man from Nagasaki Prefecture involved in logging in Mindanao met the two men in August.
The Nagasaki man contacted a war veterans association in Japan and the information about the two men was conveyed to the ministry in October.
Yoshihiko Terashima of Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, who is a member of the organization,visited Mindanao and tried to contact the two men. According to the 86-year-old veteran, the two were uneasy about returning to Japan because they were afraid of being court-martialed and executed.
Terashima succeeded in contacting the two men early this month, which led to the Japanese Embassy in Manila sending officials to Mindanao to meet the men.
The information about the two men was conveyed to Goichi Ichikawa, 89, of Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Prefecture--who was in the same division as Yamakawa and Nakauchi--in December from a Japanese man who was on the island collecting the remains of Japanese soldiers.
Ichikawa said Yamakawa and Nakauchi were living together with Reiichi Sakurai from Kakogawa, Hyogo Prefecture, after the war ended. Ichikawa said Sakurai, 93, is also believed to be alive.
2 more said alive
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said a veterans association informed the War Victims' Relief Bureau in October that four former Japanese soldiers were alive on Mindanao Island.
The ministry immediately asked the Foreign Ministry to gather information pertaining to the case on Mindanao Island while checking their names against the roll of Imperial Japanese Army members in its archives.
The ministry believes the two men the Japanese Embassy sent officials to contact are Yamakawa and Nakauchi.
Of the remaining two men, one is believed to be Sakurai, a field hospital surgeon, but there is no clue as to the identity of the fourth.
On the health ministry's army roster, Yamakawa, Nakauchi and Sakurai were registered as dead.
The government is working on identifying two people on Mindanao Island in the Philippines who may be former Japanese soldiers and will make the necessary preparations should they wish to return.
Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Hidehisa Otsuji at a press conference on Friday morning said: "We had received information about them and requested that the Foreign Ministry investigate the matter. The government received further information in January and February as well as a permit [to investigate the two people]."
Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura said at a separate press conference, "The Japanese Embassy received information [on the two men] but it's difficult to conclude at present whether there are two or more people."
A senior Foreign Ministry official said Friday, "The two people have items that may identify them."
According to sources, the two men are believed to be Yoshio Yamakawa, 87, and Tsuzuki Nakauchi, 85.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is working on identifying them by using groups of demobilized soldiers and family members, as well as cross-checking a list of former members of the Imperial Japanese Army.
The government plans to help the two men return to Japan and reunite with their families if they are confirmed as former Japanese soldiers and want to return to Japan.
The government plans to ask the prefectural governments that registered their dispatch to reinstate their family register.
The government also plans to shoulder the costs associated with their return and any medical fees incurred, in line with a law concerning support for families of soldiers who have not returned to Japan.
The government also plans to provide a soldiers pension if requested.
According to a survey by the health ministry, from 1955 to 1975, there are 22 former Japanese soldiers and civilian personnel, including seven Taiwanese, who did not return to Japan after World War II, but were found based on information provided by private organizations.
Men were part of 30th Division
According to records of the Defense Agency's National Institute, comprised of former soldiers, the two men belonged to the 30th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II that was formed in Pyongyang in June 1943. It consisted of 16,000 soldiers, mainly those in their early 20s. About 80 percent of the division was killed in action.
The division initially prepared for a possible battle with the former Soviet Union, but were dispatched to Mindanao Island, where tensions were mounting in the southern areas.
The 30th Regiment of 30th Division was an intelligence-gathering unit that comprised 470 soldiers.
In June 1944, the Division arrived on the island and was based in jungles and mountainous areas.
According to Goichi Ichikawa, 89, of Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, who was chairman of Hyo no Kai (Leopard Group), a group of 30th Division soldiers, the 30th Regiment was an elite group known as Hyoheidan (Leopard Unit).
However, air supremacy in the area belonged to the U.S. forces and fierce battles were fought across the island.
In October 1944, Douglas MacArthur landed on Leyte Island, north of Mindanao Island. The main unit of the 30th Division was dispatched to the island, but was annihilated.
In April the following year, U.S. forces began landing on Mindanao Island. The 30th Division soldiers dispersed into the jungle and were forced to fight the U.S. forces using guerrilla tactics.
Among the 30th soldiers, more than 12,000 died or went missing, and only 3,000 soldiers returned to Japan.
According to Hyo no Kai, the 30th Division fought the U.S. forces fiercely, using automatic weapons. Heavily outnumbered, they fought in close combat using bayonets.
Wracked by hunger and disease, the survivors entered the jungles. They began to surrender to U.S. forces in September.
Among 473 who belonged to 30th Regiment, 273 died.
Shame in returning home
Former Japanese soldier Shoichi Yokoi was found in Guam in 1972. He returned to Japan and died in 1997 at the age of 82.
Former Imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer Hiroo Onoda, now 83, was found hiding in the jungle on Lubang Island in 1974. He returned to Japan in March 1974.
Yokoi was dispatched to Guam in March 1944 and fought using guerrilla tactics after U.S. forces landed on the island.
Yokoi hid for 27 years in the jungle and was found by a local resident in January 1972 in February of that year, he returned to Japan. His remark, "It's shameful, but I returned home" became a well-known phrase.
In Japan, Yokoi delivered many speeches on the theme of self-sacrifice.
Meanwhile, Onoda was dispatched to Lubang Island as a second lieutenant. He continued guerrilla warfare against the U.S. forces. Because he did not receive an order to end his mission, he hid for 30 years before being found in February 1974.
After returning to Japan, he married and emigrated to Brazil, where he runs a cram school.
An employee at the school said Onoda had no comment on the discovery of the two men. ________________________________________________
Home is the soldier, home from the wars...
The Yomiuri Shimbun
On the eve of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, comes the amazing news that two men believed to be former soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army have been found on Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines.
Officials from the Japanese Embassy in Manila have been sent to the southern Mindanao city of General Santos to verify whether the two men are in fact WWII stragglers.
The two men, both in their 80s, are believed to be Yoshio Yamakawa, a lieutenant, and Tsuzuki Nakauchi, a corporal.
According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and other sources, the two men were engaged in operations on the island when the war ended in 1945.
During the ensuing six decades, the two have hid out in mountainous areas of the island that are controlled by rebels, remaining "on duty" as it were, although the war has long ended.
We would like to offer words of consolation from the bottom of our hearts to the two men for their long years of hardships.
Stragglers feared court-martial
The near-unbelievable tale of their survival surfaced when a man from Nagasaki Prefecture involved in a logging project in Mindanao came across the two men in August. The man reported the news to a war veterans association in Japan, which sent members to the island to make contact with the two men.
The two stragglers reportedly told the members of the association that they were uneasy about returning to Japan because they were afraid of being court-martialed and executed.
The association managed to allay their concerns by sending in to the two men old magazines that reported the case of former 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda, who hid out in the jungle on Lubang Island in the Philippines until 1974 when he was returned to Japan. The association also sent a note saying "There is no need to worry."
The honor for reaching out to these two former soldiers lays squarely with their fellow veterans who went through the same hardships during the war as the two men had.
Both of the two men reportedly want to return to Japan.
We ask the government to help realize their return to Japan as soon as possible and to extend generous support to the two if they want to resettle in Japan.
When it comes to the return of former Japanese soldiers to Japan, we remember Shoichi Yokoi, who was found in the jungle in Guam in 1972, and the discovery of Onoda two years later.
Search for forgotten soldiers
In the 30 years or so since the discoveries of Yokoi and Onoda, has the government done enough to determine whether there are still forgotten soldiers who have yet to return from the battlefield?
When it receives information that a man believed to be a former Japanese soldier has been spotted, the health ministry contacts the Foreign Ministry, which dispatches officials to the area in question to determine if there is any truth to the rumor.
In tandem with an ongoing project to collect the remains of Japanese soldiers, the health ministry gathers information concerning soldiers who have not returned from the battlefield.
However, some war veterans associations are dissatisfied with the meagre results made through government efforts. As these former members of the Imperial Japanese armed forces are all reaching an advanced age, is the government taking it for granted that there are no war survivors any more?
Reports from Mindanao indicate there are other stragglers in the area. We hope the government will make a thorough investigation and search for any possible survivors.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 28)
Hung out with the tribe for awhile. Married a local. Probably kept their health. Now they'll be feted in Tokyo. Not a bad life.
I'm with you, injin. They're going to wish they'd died without knowing what Japan is like now.
I read about this yesterday. This is truly amazing.
What the hell is a 'cram school'?
"Both belonged to the 30th Regiment of the 30th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army."
In their minds they still belong to the this Regiment. They are in for some big amazement at how much the world has changed. Especially Japan, I've heard it's like the world of the future there, even compared to here.
With updates posted with the most recent material from Japan....
this was a Gilligan's Island episode.
Just an educated guess:
Since there is a large population of Japanese nationals from Japanese cos in Brazil
Since these people are on temporary assignment (used to be two-four years)
Since families with school age children also are stationed with them
Japanese cos usually get together and set up schools
Since entry exams are necessary for various levels of collage and lower schooling, especially upon return to Japan
Logic would dictate that cram school is for the preparation for these various exams.
We should send some 80 year old marine vets to take them out. If they say the war is still on, it's still on.
A Japanese WW2 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda surrendered to the Philippine authorities in March 5, 1974.
Read the story at http://www.wanpela.com/holdouts/profiles/onoda.html
Gosh, after all this time! LOL!
it's an asian thing. My girlfriend is from Taiwan and they go went to regular school for about 9 hours a day, then they go to "cram school" in the evening to bone up on special subjects.
I'm mixed on this system, the kids work like dogs for decades, and while they can outperform us hands down on subject exams, like math and science, they are completely unable to think/act independent of direction. its a very odd system.
That said, if you are a guy/gal in Taiwan/Asia, and you want to make something of yourself, you go to regular school for 30+ hours, and then cram schools for another 20-30 hours a week. My girlfriend 'cramed' a lot of science and math, beginning around 5 yrs old. She also developed a fascination with English and America, which is the big thing for many young Asians. its kind of a status thing, and their views of America are odd but usually positive and refreshing.
If you do really well, and bust your butt 'cramming' for 15 years without a vacation you might get accepted into an American college where all your 'hard' scientific knowledge will be pretty useless in the diversity enrichment seminars....hehe
Wait until they find out that the US and Japan are allies. That will blow their minds.
WOF? If you like sleeping in what amounts to an over-sized version of a slab in the morgue, with music and video of course, in lieu of hotel room, during the workweek, and only going home to your family on the weekend, at least some weekends.
Japanese cos usually get together and set up schools
And undoubtedly PSL classes.
Before everyone get's all misty. They should be investigated for war crimes.
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