Japan's Endless War; ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS

Article excerpt

Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge

QUESTION Is it true that some Japanese soldiers held out for years after World War II ended, not realising the war was over?

THE Japanese military were thoroughly indoctrinated in the Bushido code of feudal Japan -- 'the Way of the Warrior' -- a samurai code of conduct emphasising the virtues of loyalty, honour, obedience, duty, filial piety and self-sacrifice. Consequently many believed that it was better to die than to surrender.

This made them fearsome warriors. For instance, of 23,000 Japanese soldiers on iwo Jima, 21,000 were killed and just 200 captured. it was this mentality that persuaded Truman to drop the atomic bomb, and it was only then that emperor hirohito ordered his forces to surrender and they finally began to do so.

In early 1945, Japan had at least three million soldiers fighting overseas. One third of these men were dug in on islands ranging throughout the Pacific.

Many failed to receive the order to surrender -- or did not believe it and held out for years. Two hundred Japanese soldiers were captured on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines in 1948, some others surrendered on an island north of saipan in 1951 -- others did not surrender until the seventies.

One much-publicised case was Lieutenant hiroo Onoda. he had been stationed on Lubang island in the Philippines when it was overrun by U.s. forces in February 1945. Most of the Japanese troops were slain or captured, but Onoda and several other men holed up in the jungle.

The others were eventually killed, but Onoda held out for 29 years until the Japanese government located his former commanding officer, who went to Lubang in 1974 to order Onoda to give up.

The lieutenant stepped out of the jungle to accept the order of surrender in his dress uniform and sword, with his rifle still in operating condition.

Following his surrender he became something of a celebrity, writing a bestselling biography, surrender: My Thirty Year War. Onoda moved to Brazil to raise cattle, and then returned to Japan to run a nature camp for children. in 1996 he returned to Lubang to make a large donation to the island's education system.

Simon Walters, Coventry.

THREE Japanese soldiers hid out after World War ii on Guam, the largest island of the Pacific Marianas Archipelago.

They lived off the land by stealing chickens and other livestock from the inhabitants. Two of these men died from poisoning, one after eating undercooked pig, and the other from consuming farang, a fern which, if the correct process is followed, can be made into an edible flour.

The last survivor, Corporal Fhoichi Yokoi, was discovered in January 1970 raiding shrimp traps on the Talofofo River set by two local hunters. They gave chase, following him to a bamboo thicket within which had been constructed underground quarters.

Yokoi was returned to his homeland, taking his army rifle to give back to his emperor, declaring himself very sorry he had not served his Majesty to his own satisfaction. he died on september, 23, 1999. Given the attitude of the Chimmorans (the original Guamanese) towards the Japanese, due to atrocities committed during their occupation of Guam, it is doubtful that the corporal received any aid from the local population to survive.

Mrs Gwen Neale, Southend, essex.

QUESTION Was it once fashionable to wear eyebrows made of mouse skin?

I HAVE in my possession a book called The eyebrow by Robyn Cosio, a world-renowned make-up artist working in hollywood, who is an eyebrow specialist.

Cosio follows the evolution of eyebrow fashion through history. she describes ancient egyptian women's recipes for home-made brow powder and discusses how tweezers and cosmetics pots were found in the tombs of the Pharaohs and the sumerians. in ancient Persia, kings went into battle with eyebrow kits, complete with kohl and tweezers. …