Known as the last Japanese soldier to surrender, recently uncovered documents reveals that 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda’s repatriation, was a carefully orchestrated deal between President Marcos’ administration and the Japanese government.
“Will the Japanese government offer compensation for the human and material damage they caused?” an unnamed Marcos’ negotiator asked.
The reparation paid was 1 million US dollars (equivalent to approx. 6.5 M USD today). Provided as a “gift” for Onoda’s victims in Lubang.
Unfortunately, the donation was used to promote suspicious cultural programs in the island by the Philippine government. No relatives of the Japanese hold outs’ victims received any money.
Onoda, unaware that his country had already lost the war, stayed in Lubang for 30 years after Japan surrendered in 1945.
The Japanese stragglers killed 30 and injured 100 Filipinos during their time in Lubang. Most were committed after the war had ended.
When Japanese officials found out about Onoda, they feared for his life. They immediately asked for guarantees that the lone soldier (two others had died years earlier) would not be harmed.
The other motivation for the exchange was that during the 70’s the Japanese economy was booming. They had business interests they want to pursue in the Philippines. Bringing home the last known soldier to them was closing a painful episode for both countries.
Marcos, a WWII veteran himself, received Onoda in Manila where the Japanese officer ceremoniously yielded his samurai.
The 600 page documents reveals how far the Japanese government is willing to go to bring back one of their own. Aside from the money they readily disbursed, the entire incident involved the highest persons in their foreign affairs.
Hiroo Onoda, came home a hero to a people who values loyalty and considers it part of their national character.
Upon landing in Japan he said, “it was an honor to have spent 30 years of the prime of my life doing something worthwhile.”