Friday, May 27, 2005
Japanese diplomats investigated claims Friday that two former Japanese soldiers have been hiding in the mountains of the southern Philippines since World War II.
The health ministry, in charge of repatriating Japanese overseas, said it was sending an official to the southern Philippine city of General Santos on Saturday to join Japanese embassy officials attempting to reach the pair....
In September, a Japanese national in the lumber business ran into the men in the mountains, the Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun reported. It was learned later that they wanted to go back to Japan but were afraid of facing a court-martial for withdrawing from action, the newspaper said.
Another source told the paper there may be more than 40 other Japanese soldiers living in the mountains, and they all want to return to Japan, the Sankei said.
The family of one of the soldiers released this picture of their lost soldier.
In this undated photo released by a family member and obtained by Kyodo News, Japanese Imperial Army soldier Tsuzuki Nakauchi is seen aboard a military horse. Pfc. Nakauchi is believed to be one of two former Japanese servicemen who have been hiding in the mountains of the southern Philippines island of Mindanao since World War II. Diplomats from Japan on Friday May 27, 2005, investigated the astonishing claims of two men who say they are former Japanese soldiers who have been hiding in the mountains of southern Philippines since World War II. Japanese Embassy representatives went to the region to interview the men in a meeting that was being arranged by a third person who contacted the mission, embassy official Masaru Watanabe said. Japanese Embassy spokesman Shuhei Ogawa cautioned that it was too early to draw any conclusions, saying there was no evidence yet that the men were WWII fighters. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
Imagine how alienated these men would feel in modern Japan, and how shocked modern Japan might feel by the return of these men. If the Japanese react the way I imagine Americans would, these soldiers would be on television before they had ever watched television, an astonishing idea. Would the return of perhaps 40 soldiers from Imperial Japan -- soldiers that have not lived through the occupation of Japan and its forced democratization under the United States -- change the political consciousness of that country just as it is flexing its muscles for the first time in sixty years? If these Japanese ba'al t'shuva remind Japan of its martial history, will adventurism abroad become more popular in a wave of nostalgia, or less popular in a fit of revulsion?