Teruo Nakamura

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Teruo Nakamura
Birth nameAttun Palalin
Born(1919-10-08)8 October 1919
Donghe, Taitō Prefecture, Taiwan
Died15 June 1979(1979-06-15) (aged 59)
National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Republic of China
AllegianceMerchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Empire of Japan
Service/branchWar flag of the Imperial Japanese Army (1868-1945).svg  Imperial Japanese Army
Years of service1943–1974
Rank Private
Unit4th Takasago Volunteer Unit 高砂義勇隊
Battles/wars Battle of Morotai

Teruo Nakamura (中村 輝夫, Nakamura Teruo, born Attun Palalin; [1] [2] also known as Suniuo; [3] [4] 8 October 1919 – 15 June 1979) 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.


Military service

Nakamura was an Amis aborigine. Born on 8 October 1919, he was then enlisted into a Takasago Volunteer Unit of the Imperial Japanese Army in November 1943. He was stationed in Morotai Island in Indonesia shortly before the island was overrun by the Allies in September 1944 in the Battle of Morotai. Nakamura was allegedly declared dead on 13 November 1945 by the Imperial Japanese Army. [3]

After the capture of the island, it appears that Nakamura lived with other stragglers on the island until well into the 1950s, while going off for extended periods of time on his own. In 1956, he apparently decided to relinquish his allegiance with the other remaining holdouts on the island and set off to construct a small camp of his own, consisting of a small hut in a 20 m × 30 m (66 ft × 98 ft) fenced field. [5]


Nakamura's hut was accidentally discovered by a pilot in mid-1974. In November 1974, the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta requested the assistance of the Indonesian government in organizing a search mission, which was conducted by the Indonesian Air Force on Morotai and led to his arrest by Indonesian soldiers on 18 December 1974. He was flown to Jakarta and was hospitalized there. News of his discovery reached Japan on 27 December 1974. Nakamura decided to be repatriated straight to Taiwan, bypassing Japan, and died there of lung cancer five years later on 15 June 1979. Upon his return, he was referred to by the Taiwanese press as Lee Kuang-hui (李光輝), a name he learned of only after his repatriation. [3] The Taiwanese Kuomintang government initially did not receive him well because it considered him a Japanese loyalist. [2] [6]

The Japanese public's perceptions of Nakamura and his repatriation at the time differed considerably from those of earlier holdouts, such as Hirō Onoda, who had been discovered only a few months earlier and was both an officer and ethnically Japanese. As a private in a colonial unit from a now-independent country, Nakamura was not entitled to a pension after a 1953 change in the law on pensions, and thus received only the minimal sum of ¥68,000 (US $227.59 at the time, US $1,200 in 2019). [1] This caused a considerable outcry in the press, motivating the Taiwanese government and the public to donate a total of ¥4,250,000 to Nakamura. [7]

See also

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  1. 1 2 "The Last Last Soldier?", Time, 13 January 1975
  2. 1 2 Munsterhjelm, Mark (2014). Living Dead in the Pacific: Racism and Sovereignty in Genetics Research on Taiwan Aborigines. University of British Columbia Press. p. 224 fn.8. ISBN   978-0-7748-2659-4.
  3. 1 2 3 Han Cheung (2 January 2016). "The last holdout of Morotai". Taipei Times. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  4. Han Cheung (16 September 2018). "Taiwan in Time: Abandoned by the rising sun". Taipei Times. Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  5. Webb, William (14 July 2014). No Surrender!: Seven Japanese WWII Soldiers Who Refused to Surrender After the War. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. p. 74. ISBN   978-1500527013.
  6. Trefalt, Beatrice (2003). Japanese Army Stragglers and Memories of the War in Japan, 1950-75. RoutledgeCurzon. pp. 160–178. ISBN   0-415-31218-3.
  7. Trefalt, Beatrice (2003). Japanese Army Stragglers and Memories of the War in Japan, 1950-75. RoutledgeCurzon. p. 260. ISBN   0-415-31218-3.