A Brief History
On January 24, 1972, on the U.S. territory of the island of Guam, Japanese Sgt. Shoichi Yokoi was found hiding, believing that World War II was still going on!
Digging deeper, we find an incredibly dedicated soldier discovered by 2 islanders who had captured him and presented him to American military officials.
Yokoi had taken part in the 1941 invasion and capture of Guam and was fighting the losing battle when the Americans retook the island in 1944. Yokoi did not surrender then and continued to hold out for the next 27 years, never believing the leaflets that were dropped over the island informing any surviving Japanese that the war was over.
Yokoi returned to Japan to a hero’s welcome, and certainly his dedication is commendable, if not at least a bit far fetched. Yokoi was one of ten Japanese soldiers who had hidden from the invading Americans, but by 1964, the others had split up or died, and he was alone for those last 8 years, living off the land and avoiding capture.
Declared dead by the Japanese government in 1955, Yokoi actually lived until 1997 and died aged 82. He had been given back pay of about $300 and a pension for his service and made a living as a television personality.
The strange part of this story is that Yokoi was not the last Japanese soldier to surrender! Two more held out (one in the Philippines and the other in Indonesia) until 1974!
Question for students (and subscribers): Was it brave or foolish to wait so long to surrender? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information on this remarkable story of survival and persistence, see…
Correspondents of the Asahi Shimbun. 28 Years in the Guam Jungle: Sergeant Yokoi Home from World War II. Japan Publications, Inc., 1972.
Onoda, Hiroo and Charles S. Terry. No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War. Naval Institute Press, 1999.
Shuzaihan, Sankei Shimbun Fuji Terebi Tokubetsu. The last Japanese soldier: Corporal Yokoi’s 28 incredible years in the Guam jungle. Tom Stacey Ltd, 1972.