- Oct 12, 2003
- Reaction score
'Japan soldiers' found in jungle
Japanese officials are investigating claims that two men living in jungle in the Philippines are Japanese soldiers left behind after World War II.
The pair, in their 80s, were reportedly found on southern Mindanao island.
The men were expected to travel to meet Japanese officials on Friday, but have yet to make contact.
The claim drew comparisons with the 1974 case of Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda, who was found in the Philippines jungle unaware the war had ended.
'Incredible if true'
The two men on Mindanao contacted a Japanese national who was collecting the remains of war dead on Mindanao, according to government sources.
They had equipment which suggested they were former soldiers.
"It is an incredible story if it is true," Japan's consul general in Manila, Akio Egawa, told the AFP news agency.
"They were found, I believe, in the mountains near General Santos on Mindanao Island.
"At this stage we are not saying either way whether or not these two men are in fact former soldiers. We may be in a better position later today," he said.
According to Japanese media reports, the pair had been living with Muslim rebel groups and at least one of them has married a local woman and had a family.
The BBC's Tokyo correspondent says the likelihood is that they are well aware the war is over but have chosen to stay in the Philippines for their own reasons.
Mindanao has seen more than two decades of Muslim rebellion and many areas are out of central government control.
Japan invaded the Philippines in 1941, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and set up a brutal puppet government.
In the closing months of the war, there was heavy fighting with US troops in the mountainous, heavily forested islands.
The Sankei Shimbun daily said the men would most likely be members of the Panther division, 80% of whom were killed or went missing during the final months of the war.
It speculated there could be as many as 40 Japanese soldiers living in similar conditions in the Philippines.
When Lt Onoda was found on the Philippines island of Lubang in 1974, he initially refused to surrender.
Only when his former commanding officer was flown over from Japan did he agree to leave the jungle.
He later emigrated to Brazil.
WWII stragglers story 'a hoax'
Wednesday, June 1, 2005 Posted: 0033 GMT (0833 HKT)
TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- The mediator who tried to arrange a meeting with two alleged Japanese soldiers supposedly hiding in the Philippines since World War II has confirmed the story is a hoax, a media report said Wednesday.
The unidentified 58-year-old Japanese man, a trader who first reported the men's existence, told the national Yomiuri newspaper that he had met the two alleged soldiers in the mountains on Mindanao island and found they were not Japanese.
Neither of the men could answer when asked where they were born and to which military unit they belonged, the mediator was quoted as saying in the Yomiuri.
After the Japanese trader's Filipino staff notified him about the the wartime stragglers, he spent 5 million yen ($46,000) paying local residents for information in hopes of tracking them down, the paper said.
The story of the two soldiers, who were reportedly separated from their unit six decades ago and were afraid to return for fear of being court-martialed, broke as Japanese veterans marked the 60th anniversary of the war's end.
Japan withdrew diplomats from General Santos, in the southern Philippines, Monday after four days of unsuccessfully trying to verify the reports.
The Japanese Embassy and officials in Tokyo cited security concerns in a region notorious for Muslim guerrilla attacks and criminal gangs.
Japan's Kyodo news agency, quoting an unidentified government source, said Tokyo also concluded that the Japanese mediator could not be trusted.
In Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said attempts to arrange a face-to-face meeting with the men would continue despite suspicions the tale is a hoax.
The Philippines, a U.S. colony during the war, was a major battleground in the Pacific. The Japanese occupation is remembered for its massacres of civilians and deaths of hundreds of thousands of U.S. and Filipino soldiers.
Years after the war ended, there were signs indicating Japanese soldiers were still in the hills.
In March 1974, intelligence officer 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda came out of hiding on northern Lubang island, but he refused to give up until the Japanese government flew in his former commander to tell him the war was over.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
The Yithian said:Emperor said:In March 1974, intelligence officer 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda came out of hiding on northern Lubang island, but he refused to give up until the Japanese government flew in his former commander to tell him the war was over.
That's brilliant. He's been given orders and until he sees the man that issued them rescind them - eyeball to eyeball, in case of deception - he's going nowhere. Usefull people to have around on your side!