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Hiroo Onoda R.I.P.

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Hiroo Onoda in 1996

Who he?

Well you may not recognise the name but I am sure that those of you of a certain age will remember why he became famous in 1974.

He was a wartime Japanese officer who surrendered only in 1974, having hunkered down in the jungles of the Philippines for nearly three decades in defiant honour of the Imperial Army.

His exile on Lubang Island, 93 miles south west of Manila, was a rebellious response to the American invasion in February 1945. Onoda, who was a young Intelligence lieutenant at the time, had taken literally his final order to stay and fight. Most of the island’s Japanese troops either withdrew or surrendered, yet, along with other splinter groups, Onoda went into hiding in the mountains.

For the next 29 years he survived on a diet of rice, coconuts and meat (from cattle slaughtered during farm raids), and he tormented the Filipino forces on his trail. Onoda maintained his rifle, ammunition and sword in impeccable order and when finally discovered — still wearing his, now tattered, army uniform — stated that his mind had been on “nothing but accomplishing my duty”. As one of the last of the “Znryu nipponhei” (or “Japanese Holdouts”), he was greeted as a hero on his return to Japan — a country which he was shocked to find had changed beyond recognition.

He was finally located in 1974 through the efforts of Norio Suzuki, a Japanese student with aspirations to be an explorer. Suzuki had read of the killing of Kozuka and concluded that he wanted to search for “Lieutenant Onoda, a panda, and the Abominable Snowman, in that order”. Where the Philippines’ police and military had failed, Suzuki succeeded in four days.

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The encounter was as dramatic as that between Stanley and Livingstone. Onoda set his rifle on the young adventurer but was assuaged by the young man’s calm approach. “Onoda-san,” said Suzuki, “the Emperor and the people of Japan are worried about you.” It was an effective opening. “This hippie boy Suzuki came to the island to listen to the feelings of a Japanese soldier,” recalled Onoda. He would not surrender, however, until he had a direct order from his commanding officer. The following month Suzuki returned with Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, by then a bookseller. Taniguchi assured Onoda that the Imperial command has ceased all combat activity and he should lay down his arms.

Onoda accordingly presented his ceremonial sword to President Marcos, who in turn granted him a pardon for his guerilla activities and handed the weapon back.

On his return to Japan, Onoda was feted, and briefly tipped to run for the Diet, the Japanese bicameral parliament. Fiscal rewards also materialized through a military pension and publication of his best selling memoirs, No Surrender: My Thirty Year War (1974).

Thanks to this article

Resolution Advice

This list was made seventy one years ago by American folk singer Woody Guthrie.

At age 31, he was in the prime of his life, with a wife and three kids, as well as a good deal of life experience, having survived the Dust Bowl to make it out to California. 

As a result, it’s a pretty unbeatable list. Check it out:

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Thanks to Business Insider and woodyguthrie.org

Back in Time

This pocket watch belonged to Robert Burns. It was a gift from his wife, Jean Armour.

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The Scotsman reported last week:

A SYMBOL of one of literary history’s most famous romances, a watch given to Scotland’s greatest poet, Robert Burns, by his wife Jean Armour, has been uncovered and is to go on public sale for the first time.

The silver pocket watch contains a delicate, hand-annotated love note written by Armour on a piece of paper hidden inside the case.

The “pair-cased” watch contains a hand-pierced paper insert with a twin love-bird and heart motifs, and the initials “R” and “J” inside them – which experts believe refer to Rabbie and Jean.

On the back of the watch, which experts say is in excellent condition, the words “Robt Burns Mauchline” and the date 1786 are engraved.

Phil Gregory, spokesman for the auctioneer Lyon & Turnbull, said the watch came from a private collection and the seller had opted to remain anonymous.

He said: “I’ve held the piece myself, and it’s in amazing condition. You would not have thought it was the age it is.

“The piece of paper that sits inside it is very pretty, and the ink that the ‘R’ and a ‘J’, is written in is really fresh.”

The rest of the article can be read by clicking on the link.

The watch came up at auction in Edinburgh today and was expected to reach a price of £2,500.

It sold for £40,000.

Today’s Question

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Bird House

Mr and Mrs Housemartin have set up home at Bigrab Towers.

Their building work is almost complete.

I’m just away to check that they have planning permission.

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More Pareidolia

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Pareidolia

I wrote about pareidolia here a couple of years back.

It’s the phenomenon of seeing faces, figures or forms in random objects and it is something I’ve been reminded of in two news stories tonight.

For example does this tea kettle remind you of someone?

hitealer

And then there’s the altogether more dramatic revelation about a possible rodent on Mars