Hiroo Onoda, soldier who fought for almost 30 years after the war ended, has died

There’s an obituary in last week’s issue of the Economist about a Japanese soldier named Hiroo Onoda who continued to believe he was still serving his duty as a spy on an island in the Philippines for nearly three decades after the end of the World War 2. He stayed in hiding, stealing food from farmers, killing farmers, believing he was still under command to wait for his colleagues to return. Finally, in 1974, Japan sent his former commanding officer to the Philippines to give Onoda new orders in person to cease fighting. (A Japanese hiker had discovered him in the mountains and found out that this was the only way he was going to come back out.)

Perhaps not surprisingly, Onoda was super disappointed that the war was over and that Japan had lost, and that Japan had turned soft. A year after his homecoming he moved to Brazil to become a cattle rancher; he later moved back to Japan and started a survival school for herbivorous Japanese young men.

He died January 16 of heart failure.

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