On This Day in Japan

March 12, 1974: World War II Holdout Onoda Hiroo Returns to Japan

History Society

World War II holdout Onoda Hiroo returned to Japan from Lubang Island in the Philippines on this day in 1974.

On March 12, 1974, Onoda Hiroo, a former second lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army, returned to Japan after hiding in the jungle of Lubang Island, the Philippines, for nearly 30 years after the end of World War II. He had been discovered there by the adventurer Suzuki Norio in February of the same year. Onoda would not accept that the war was over and that Japan had been defeated until his former commanding officer, Taniguchi Yoshimi, traveled to the island in March and persuaded him to “surrender.”

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Onoda Hiroo on Lubang Island in the Philippines on March 11, 1974. © Jiji.)

World War II army