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August 1996, Week 5


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Mitsuo SAM Yoshimura <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 27 Aug 1996 18:42:56 +0000
text/plain (98 lines)
Ono Seiko and Aaron Gerow wrote:
> At 17:53 8/24/96 -0400, Christopher Douglas wrote:
> >Does anyone recall seeing films, television episodes,
> >or made for tv movies based on Japanese war hold-outs on Pacific island
> >jungles long after the end of World War Two?  In the 1960s and 1970s,
> >there were several incidents in which such soldiers, unaware that the war
> >had been over for 20 to 30 years, were captured or surrendered to local
> >authorities -- usually in Guam or the Phillipines.  They had typically
> >been hiding in jungles, waiting for the Japanese army to retake the
> >island.  I recall seeing fictionalized accounts of these events, I think
> >on tv, in the 1970s, but I can't remember where or when exactly.  Does
> >anyone else remember stories like these?  Can anyone remember the title
> >of the movie or tv show?
> I do not recall the movie or TV versions of these stories, but to speak of
> the actual histories, the most famous one is of Onoda Hiroo, who held out
> on Lubang Island in the Philippines until spring of 1974.  His
> autobiography has been translated into English: "No Surrender: My
> Thirty-year War" (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1974).  Beat Takeshi, who appeared in
> MERRY CHRISTMAS MR. LAWRENCE and directed such (great) films as SONATINE
> and KIDS RETURN (under the name Kitano Takeshi), was planning to make or
> appear (I forget which) in a (TV) movie on Onoda before he had his accident
> in 1994.
> The other famous case is of Yokoi Shoichi, who appeared in Guam a few years
> before Onoda.
> Maybe this will help.
> Aaron Gerow
> Tokyo, Japan
> [log in to unmask]
> -------
I saw a Japanese theatrical feature film entitled "SAIGO NO NIPPON HEI"
(literal translation: The last Japanese soldiers) back in the late
1950's or in the very early 60's.
I was a kid (born 1951) back in Japan at that time, maybe a second,
a third or a fourth grader.  One day, the whole school went to three
theaters in town (there were about 1200 kids - baby boomers - in the
school) to see the particular movie.
The film was based on a REAL story of a couple of (maybe three) soilders
who held out in Guam for well over a decade after the end of WW II, not
knowing the war was over, or at least they didn't believe the war was
over.  (The soldiers were taught that the Emperor was devine and that
they should NEVER surrender to the enemy in His name.  Die rather than
surrender, was the absolute rule in the military.)
With their mind set, they could not believe what was written on the
flyers or the audio announcements made from the airplanes, all telling
them that the war was over and it was now safe for them to come out
of the jungle --- this after-the-war effort was extensively carried
out by both U.S. and Japanese governments as well as by private parties.
The soldiers still thought it was one of those war-time tricks, and
were afraid to show up.)
Anyway, after the screening there were some follow-ups on the movie
in the classroom; we talked about the peril of fascism, how it can
blind the mind of citizens, et al.   We kids all felt that we were
lucky to live in peace time in a democratic world, and many had
honestly thanked America for relieving Japan from fascism.
What Aaron has written in his reply is accurate.  It was quite
shocking to see on TV Private Yokoi in a little tattered, self-made
uniform (made from fibers of plants in the jungle of Guam --- lucky
he was a tailor before he was drafted) finally come out so many years
Yokoi and those few soldiers who had come out years earlier had lived
on the same island, but never met nor knew the existence of each other.
(During Yokoi's long years in Guam, thousands of Japanese vacationers,
many of them born after the war, have visited the booming island resort
by jets.  Yet just a few miles from their hotels, Yokoi, alone in the
jungle, was still living the war.)
I thought Pvt. Yokoi was the last of his kind, considering more than
the two decades (an eternity) past after the war's end.  But, then, a
few years later, Lt. Onoda was found in the Phillipines.  Even now,
I sometimes wonder if there is any of these holdouts still alive
somewhere in the Pacific.  If that is the case, they are most probably
74 to 78 years of age, about the same age as my father who was lucky
to come back from the continental front.
By the way, a scene of the "SAIGO NO NIPPON HEI" was shot on the island
a couple of miles offshore of my hometown, Shibushi, in southern Kyushu,
Sam, Studio City, California
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