On February 20, 1974, Onoda encountered a young Japanese university dropout named Norio Suzuki who was traveling the wold and told his friends that he was “going to look for Lieutenant Onoda, a panda, and the abominable snowman, in that order. The two became friends, but Onoda said that he was waiting for orders from one of his commanders. On March 9, 1974, Onoda went to an agreed upon place and found a note that had been left by Suzuki. Suzuki had brought along Onoda’s one-time superior commander, Major Taniguchi, who delivered the oral orders for Onoda to surrender. Intelligence Officer 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onada emerged from the jungle of Lubang Island with his .25 caliber rifle, 500 rounds of ammunition and several hand grenades. He sureendered 29 years after Japan’s formal surrender, and 15 years after being declared legally dead in Japan. When he accepted that the war was over, he wept openly.
There’s something very honorable in this, even if it might seem a bit strange to us. From the Japanese surrender in 1945 to Onoda’s surrender in 1974 is an awfully long span of time. Even though there were leaflets dropped declaring the end of the war, Onoda thought they were clever ruses and dared not venture forth. I think this is an incredible story. This man did what he thought was “right” until he received orders otherwise. That’s pretty amazing, even if he was mistaken.