Imperial Japanese Army Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda Returns to Japan

Imperial Japanese Army Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda and student journalist Norio Suzuki disembark March 29, 1974 at New Tokyo International Airport after flying in from the Philippines to greet waiting crowds. Onoda was one of four surviving Japanese soldiers in Lubang. In 1949 one surrendered, the second was killed in 1954, and the third was killed in 1972. Onoda refused personal entreaties by Filipino and Japanese officials, his brother, and written requests by his family to come in. On February 20, 1974 Suzuki camped out on Lubang under a Japanese flag. Onoda reportedly greeted him with the statement that the war "isn't over for me," and talked to him for several hours. Suzuki took photos of the encounter and was able to return on March 9 with Onoda's former commanding officer, who ordered him to surrender. Onoda had killed 30 Filipino police and civilians in the 29 years has was holding out on Lubang. Because of the circumstances he was given a pardon by Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos. He and Suzuki returned to Japan, where Onoda authored a book about his experiences and Suzuki was a celebrity for a time on the Japanese talk show circuit.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Tuesday, March 12, 1974
Chiba Prefecture