Japanese Stragglers Found In Jungle

Holy Shades of Yokoi Batman: Two Japanese soldiers were found on the Philippine island of Mindanao, stragglers from World War II. Apparently the men, both in their 80’s, are not living in some sort of bubble. They live with Muslim separatists and probably decided to desert and stay in the jungle near General Santos for their own reasons, not some misguided patriotism. Apparently they married local women and have families.

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    WWII stragglers story ‘a hoax’

    Wednesday, June 1, 2005 Posted: 0033 GMT (0833 HKT)


    Hiroyuki Hosoda
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    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. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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