Japanese holdout

Last updated

Japanese holdouts (Japanese : 残留日本兵, romanized: Zanryū nipponhei, lit. 'remaining Japanese soldiers') were soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy during the Pacific Theatre of World War II who continued fighting World War II after the surrender of Japan in August 1945. Japanese holdouts either doubted the veracity of the formal surrender or were not aware that the war had ended because communications had been cut off by Allied advances.


After Japan officially surrendered in August 1945, Japanese holdouts in Southeast Asian countries and Pacific islands that had been part of the Japanese empire continued to fight local police, government forces, and American and British forces stationed to assist the newly formed governments. Many holdouts were discovered in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands over the following decades, with the last verified holdout, Private Teruo Nakamura, surrendering on Morotai Island in Indonesia in December 1974. Newspapers throughout East Asia and Pacific islands reported more holdouts and searches for them were conducted until the late 1980s, but the evidence was too scant and no further holdouts were confirmed. Nevertheless, holdouts continued to be allegedly spotted until the late 1990s. Investigators now believe that the last alleged sightings of Japanese holdouts were stories invented by local residents to attract tourists.

Some Japanese soldiers acknowledged Japan's surrender and the end of World War II, but were reluctant to demobilize and wished to continue armed combat for ideological reasons. Many fought in the Chinese Civil War, Korean War, and local independence movements such as the First Indochina War and Indonesian National Revolution. These Japanese soldiers are not usually considered holdouts.



Second Lieutenant Sakae Oba, a Japanese holdout, photo from 1937. Oba Sakae portrait.JPG
Second Lieutenant Sakae Ōba, a Japanese holdout, photo from 1937.




Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi was discovered in Guam on 24 January 1972, almost 28 years after the Allies had regained control of the island in 1944. Shouichi yokoi.jpg
Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi was discovered in Guam on 24 January 1972, almost 28 years after the Allies had regained control of the island in 1944.
Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda in 1944 while in Lubang Island, Philippines before becoming Japanese holdout. Onoda-young.jpg
Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda in 1944 while in Lubang Island, Philippines before becoming Japanese holdout.
  • In March 1974, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda surrendered on Lubang after holding out on the island from December 1944 with Akatsu, Shimada and Kozuka. Onoda refused to surrender until he was relieved of duty by his former commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, who was flown to Lubang to formally relieve Onoda. [11]
  • Private Teruo Nakamura, a Taiwanese-born soldier (Amis: Attun Palalin), was discovered by the Indonesian Air Force on Morotai, and surrendered to a search patrol on December 18, 1974. [9] [17] Nakamura, who spoke neither Japanese nor Chinese, was the last confirmed holdout and was discovered 29 years, 3 months, and 16 days after the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed.



See also

Related Research Articles

Northern Mariana Islands Unincorporated territory and commonwealth of the United States

The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, is an unincorporated territory and commonwealth of the United States consisting of 14 islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. The CNMI includes the 14 northernmost islands in the Mariana Archipelago; the southernmost island, Guam, is a separate U.S. territory. The CNMI and Guam are the easternmost territories of the United States.

Hiroo Onoda Imperial Japanese Army officer

Hiroo Onoda was an Imperial Japanese Army intelligence officer who fought in World War II and was a Japanese holdout who did not surrender at the war's end in August 1945. After the war ended Onoda spent 29 years hiding out in the Philippines until his former commander travelled from Japan to formally relieve him from duty by order of Emperor Shōwa in 1974. He held the rank of second lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army. He was the penultimate Japanese soldier to surrender, with Teruo Nakamura surrendering later in 1974.

Victory over Japan Day Effective end of World War II

Victory over Japan Day is the day on which Imperial Japan surrendered in World War II, in effect bringing the war to an end. The term has been applied to both of the days on which the initial announcement of Japan's surrender was made – August 15, 1945, in Japan, and because of time zone differences, August 14, 1945 – as well as to September 2, 1945, when the surrender document was signed, officially ending World War II.

Shoichi Yokoi Imperial Japanese Army soldier

Shōichi Yokoi was a sergeant in the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during the Second World War, and was among the last three Japanese holdouts to be found after the end of hostilities in 1945. He was discovered in the jungles of Guam on 24 January 1972, almost 28 years after U.S. forces had regained control of the island in 1944.

Onoda may refer to:

Lubang Island

Lubang Island is the largest island in the Lubang Group of Islands, an archipelago which lies to the northwest of the northern end of Mindoro in the Philippines. The Lubang Islands are about 150 kilometres (93 mi) southwest of Manila. There are seven islands in the group. The island is divided into two municipalities. The largest settlement is the town of Lubang, the northwest end of the island. Its town center is about 8 miles (13 km) northwest of Tilik Port, the only safe anchorage on Lubang Island. The southeastern half of the island is covered by the Municipality of Looc. The Lubang island group, which constitutes all the seven islands, are geographically distinct from any landmass, making it biologically unique - and endangered at the same time. The islands are under consideration to be set aside as a UNESCO tentative site.

Battle of Tinian

The Battle of Tinian was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought on the island of Tinian in the Mariana Islands from 24 July until 1 August 1944. The 8,000-man Japanese garrison was eliminated, and the island joined Saipan and Guam as a base for the Twentieth Air Force.


Anatahan is an island in the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean, and has one of the most active volcanoes of the archipelago. Formerly inhabited, the island currently does not have any population due to the always-present danger of volcanic eruptions. Anatahan is located 60 kilometers (32 nmi) northwest of Farallon de Medinilla and 120 km (65 nmi) north of Saipan.

Philippines campaign (1944–1945) 1944-45 WWII campaign to liberate the Philippines from its occupation by Japan

The Philippines campaign, Battle of the Philippines or the Liberation of the Philippines, codenamed Operation Musketeer I, II, and III, was the American, Mexican, Australian and Filipino campaign to defeat and expel the Imperial Japanese forces occupying the Philippines during World War II. The Japanese Army overran all of the Philippines during the first half of 1942. The liberation of the Philippines commenced with amphibious landings on the eastern Philippine island of Leyte on October 20, 1944. United States and Philippine Commonwealth military forces were progressing in liberating territory and islands when the Japanese forces in the Philippines were ordered to surrender by Tokyo on August 15, 1945, after the dropping of the atomic bombs on mainland Japan and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.

8th Division (Imperial Japanese Army)

The 8th Division was an infantry division in the Imperial Japanese Army. It was formed 1 October 1898 in Hirosaki, Aomori, as one of the six new reserve divisions created after the First Sino-Japanese War and was annihilated in the Philippines during the Pacific War at Rodriguez, Rizal in 1945. Its Tsūshōgō was Sugi. The 8th Division consisted of troops from the Tōhoku region of Japan, primarily Aomori, Akita and Yamagata Prefectures. Its first commander was General Tatsumi Naofumi, formerly commander of the Sendai Garrison.

Battle of Morotai Extended WWII battle of the Pacific War

The Battle of Morotai, part of the Pacific War, began on 15 September 1944, and continued until the end of the war in August 1945. The fighting started when United States and Australian forces landed on the southwest corner of Morotai, a small island in the Netherlands East Indies (NEI), which the Allies needed as a base to support the liberation of the Philippines later that year. The invading forces greatly outnumbered the island's Japanese defenders and secured their objectives in two weeks. Japanese reinforcements landed on the island between September and November, but lacked the supplies needed to effectively attack the Allied defensive perimeter. Intermittent fighting continued until the end of the war, with the Japanese troops suffering heavy loss of life from disease and starvation.

Teruo Nakamura was a Taiwanese-Japanese soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army who fought for Japan in World War II and did not surrender until 1974. He was the last known Japanese holdout to surrender after the end of hostilities in 1945.

Takasago Volunteers

Takasago Volunteers were volunteer soldiers in the Imperial Japanese Army recruited from the Taiwanese Indigenous Peoples during World War II.

Military Medal of Honor was a military decoration for meritorious service to the Empire of Japan, formerly awarded to all military personnel who participated in battles in a war. These war medals and accompanying certificates specifically identify the conflict for which the decoration will have been awarded.

USS <i>Cocopa</i> (ATF-101)

USS Cocopa (ATF-101) was an Abnaki-class fleet ocean tug that served on active duty with the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1978, seeing action in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. After thirty-four years of service, she was sold to the Mexican Navy, where she was still in service as of 2009.

Shima is a 2007 film from Uzbekistan.


Morotai Island is an island in the Halmahera group of eastern Indonesia's Maluku Islands (Moluccas). It is one of Indonesia's northernmost islands.

Norio Suzuki (explorer) Japanese explorer and adventurer notable for finding Hiroo Onoda

Norio Suzuki was a Japanese explorer and adventurer. In 1974 he searched for and found Hiroo Onoda, one of the last remaining Japanese holdouts who had refused to surrender after the end of World War II. Suzuki died in November 1986 in an avalanche while searching for the yeti.

1974 in the Philippines details events of note that happened in the Philippines in the year 1974.

Onoda – 10,000 Nights in the Jungle is a 2021 French biographical drama film directed by Arthur Harari. The film stars Yuya Endo as Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese soldier who refused to believe that World War II had ended and continued to fight on a remote Philippine island until 1974.


  1. "Hidden Japanese surrender after Pacific War has ended - Jan 01, 1946 - HISTORY.com". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  2. "Profiles of Known Japanese Holdouts | Lt Ei Yamaguchi, Surrendered – April 1947". Wanpela. Archived from the original on 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2012-07-14.
  3. "Hirohito Photo with MP's Induces Japs to Give Up". Albuquerque Journal. May 12, 1948. p. 6.
  4. "Japanese Surrender After Four Year Hiding". Pacific Stars and Stripes. Jan 10, 1949. p. 5. Archived from the original on July 17, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  5. "Profiles of Known Japanese Holdouts | Yamakage Kufuku". Wanpela. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
  6. "Three Jap Stragglers Hold Out on Tiny Isle", The Lima (O.) News, p. 5, April 8, 1952
  7. "Pacific War Finally Ends for 19 Die-Hard Japanese". Pacific Stars and Stripes. Jun 27, 1951. p. 1.
  8. "Japanese Surrender in 1951 at Island of Anatahan". Archived from the original on 2018-10-20. Retrieved 2018-10-20.
  9. 1 2 3 4 "Final Straggler: the Japanese soldier who outlasted Hiroo Onoda". A Blast from the Past. September 15, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-22.
  10. "Registry". No Surrender Japanese Holdouts. Archived from the original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  11. 1 2 "Onoda Home; 'It Was 30 Years on Duty'", Pacific Stars and Stripes, p. 7, March 14, 1974
  12. "Gettysburg Times - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Archived from the original on 2016-04-29. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  13. "Japanese Soldier Finds War's Over", Oakland Tribune, p. 1, May 21, 1960
  14. "Straggler Reports to Emperor", Pacific Stars and Stripes, p. 1, June 8, 1960
  15. Kristof, Nicholas D (September 26, 1997), "Shoichi Yokoi, 82, Is Dead; Japan Soldier Hid 27 Years", The New York Times, archived from the original on February 1, 2009, retrieved February 9, 2017
  16. "The Last PCS for Lieutenant Onoda", Pacific Stars and Stripes, p. 6, March 13, 1974
  17. "The Last Last Soldier?", Time, January 13, 1975, archived from the original on May 22, 2013, retrieved May 30, 2008
  18. Asahi Shimbun, January 18, 1980
  19. "Still fighting, 35 years after V-J day" (PDF), Finger Lakes Times, Fulton History, p. 1, April 10, 1980, archived (PDF) from the original on May 13, 2012, retrieved November 6, 2011
  20. "Soldier's hut found in Philippines", Milwaukee Sentinel, p. 3, April 5, 1980, archived from the original on November 23, 2015, retrieved November 22, 2015
  21. 宮沢, 功 (1957). "連載 サラリーマン男のロマン ミンドロ島戦友捜索奮戦記". 実業之日本. Jitsugyo no Nihon Sha. 83 (6): 102–105.
  22. "第094回国会 社会労働委員会 第7号 昭和五十六年四月十四日(火曜日)" (in Japanese). Kokkai.ndl.go.jp. Archived from the original on 2014-01-04. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
  23. "No Surrender Japanese Holdouts After WWII". www.wanpela.com. Archived from the original on 2016-02-04. Retrieved 2015-11-12.