On Lubang Island in the Philippines, Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda is ready to perform his final act of WWII in the service of the Imperial Japanese Army. He is surrendering, with a ceremonial handing over of his sword, to Philippine Air Force commander Major General Jose Rancudo. But the date is March 11, 1974, nearly 30 years after the Second World War ended.
We’ll get back to why this Japanese soldier surrendered three decades late, but first let’s get to know the man a little better. Hiroo Onoda entered the world in March 1922 in a village called Kamekawa, in the Kaiso district of Wakayama Prefecture. Wakayama is on Honshu, which is the largest of the Japanese islands.
Onoda’s parents, Tanejiro and Tamae, had seven children altogether. But Onoda was not apparently the easiest of children. The Telegraph quoted words he said as an adult. He recalled, “I was always defiant and stubborn in everything I did. I was born like that.”