A former Imperial Japanese soldier, who refused to surrender and hid in a jungle for decades after World War II officially ended, has died.
In 1944, Hiroo Onoda was sent to the small island of Lubang in the Philippines to spy on U.S. forces in the region. He was given specific instructions by his commander — don't surrender and don't take your own life. (Via BBC)
Japanese imperial forces in the Philippines were eventually defeated later that year, but Onoda stayed true to his orders, refusing to surrender and eluding capture.
The New York Times reports he was declared dead in 1959, but a student searching for Onoda found him surviving in the jungle in 1974. However, Onoda refused the student's pleas to return to Japan, "insisting he was still awaiting orders."
He gave himself up only after his former commander flew to the Philippines to reverse those orders nearly 30 years after the war had ended.
Onoda returned to Japan at the age of 52 to a hero's welcome. During the war, the Japanese were taught absolute loyalty to the nation and the emperor, so Onoda's will to continue fighting was viewed as honorable. (Via Channel 5)
However, CNN explains anger remains in the Philippines, where Onoda is accused of multiple killings during the 30 years he spent there.
"The Philippines government pardoned him. But when he returned to Lubang in 1996, relatives of people he was accused of killing gathered to demand compensation."
The Japanese government announced Onoda died of pneumonia in a Tokyo hospital. He was 91 years old.