“Onoda”: the true story of the soldier who refused to believe at the end of World War II

CINEMA – Fight for survival, make an unexpected encounter that will change fate, all with a “happy end”. The life of Hirō Onoda, a Japanese soldier who did not want to believe in the end of the Second World War has everything from the perfect adventure movie.

An incredible scenario that inspired director Arthur Harari (Black Diamond, The Battle of Solferino). The French sign Onoda -10.000 nights in the jungle, a biopic on the itinerary of this soldier which is released in theaters this Wednesday, July 21.

Presented at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, the film tells the incredible journey of this soldier trained in guerrilla warfare in a secret section of the Japanese army, as we tell you in the video at the top of the article.

Keystone-France via Getty Images

PHILIPPINES – NON DATE: Portrait of Hiro Onoda (Japanese soldier who refused to believe at the end of World War II and who continued the war alone until 1974) in the jungle of Lubang Island in the Philippines.

In December 1944, he was sent at the age of 23 to Lubang Island in the Philippines. An island of 125 km2, barely larger than the city of Paris. There, Hirō Onoda must conduct sabotage operations to slow the Americans, while Japan is losing ground on all fronts.

A fight against an invisible enemy

The story could have ended there, but it was without counting on the determination and unfailing loyalty of this soldier ready to do anything to carry out the orders given to him: do everything to stop the advance of the enemy, not to be caught, not to commit suicide.

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When the conflict ends with the surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, Onoda and three men continue the fight convinced that the war is not over. They refuse to believe in these leaflets dropped by American planes announcing the end of the war, convinced that it is enemy propaganda.

Saved thanks to a student!

It was finally until 1974 for this story to have a happy ending. That year, a Japanese student, Norio Suzuki, decides to follow in the footsteps of the legend Onoda, then the last Japanese soldier on the island since 1972 and the death of his last companion. He will manage to meet him and the lieutenant will agree to surrender only if the one who gave him the orders 30 years earlier, Major Taniguchi, orders him to do so.

Whoever has in the meantime become a bookseller finally accepts and moves to the island of Lubang. LOn March 10, 197, Onoda surrenders and faces the President of the Philippines in person Ferdinand Marcos, who grants him pardon for forgiving all the violations he has committed on the island, killing civilians and looting houses.


Lieutenant Onoda on Lubang Island (Philippines) after his surrender in March 1974.

On his return to Japan, he was greeted by a crowd of anonymous upon his arrival at the airport, come to greet this “forgotten soldier” for three decades. Onoda died in Tokyo on January 17, 2014, at the age of 91. But he still remains a true legend in Japan today.

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See also on The HuffPost: Take the car for 300 meters, the ecological aberration of the Cannes red carpet

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