japanese soldier

The Holdout



decade wartime megaphones
air elderly persuade
step attempt all to no avail
fanatic order (2) surrender
resist prepare for so long
crowd guerrilla intelligence (2)
follow headline follow orders
cheer conduct broadcast
leaflet last time lieutenant
cattle massive around the world
god promise completely
ranch emperor metropolis
relic survival





This is the moment in March 1974, when Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda finally walked out of the Philippine jungle — 29 years after the end of World War Two.

For nearly three decades he resisted all attempts to persuade him that the war was over. Leaflets were dropped from the air…messages were broadcast over huge megaphones . . . all to no avail.

Finally his wartime commander flew to the Philippines, walked into the jungle, and ordered Lieutenant Onoda to surrender.

Many years later, he explained why he had resisted for so long.

“Every Japanese soldier was prepared for death. But as an intelligence officer, I was ordered to conduct guerrilla warfare, and not to die. I had to follow my orders, as I was a soldier.”

In Tokyo, Lieutenant Onoda was met by huge cheering crowds — and at the bottom of the steps, his elderly father and mother.

The last time they had seen their son he was 22 years old; now he was 52.

Onoda’s surrender made headlines around the world and he was welcomed home as a hero.

But the Japan he returned to had completely changed. The emperor was no longer the god that he had promised to die for. And Tokyo had become a massive metropolis of 20 million people.

He didn’t like it at all.

A year later, he headed to Brazil where he bought a cattle ranch. But he came back to Japan often. And at 90, he was still teaching school children secrets of survival.

Lieutenant Onoda was the last relic of another age. To some a fanatic — but to many others, a hero.

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1. Hiroo Onada was an ordinary Japanese person. True of false? Why was Onada very famous?

2. For 29 years, did he work in an office, watch TV and visit cafes and restaurants?

3. Why did Onada finally come out of the jungle?

4. What do the numbers 22 and 52 refer to?

5. Japan remained the same and never changed while Onada was away. Is this right or wrong?

6. Did he like the new Japan? What did he do?

7. Onada probably lived in a retirement home (senior citizens’ center, nursing home). What do you think?

8. Was Onada liberal or traditional and conservative?
A. I know people who live or have lived in isolation without contact with the outside world. Yes or no?

B. Have you heard of any lost soldiers or soldiers who didn’t come home from a war?

C. Have you heard of any missing persons?

D. I would like to live in isolation or as a hermit. Yes or no?

E. What might happen in the future?

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