The Imperial Japanese Army deployed hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers across the islands across the Southwest Pacific. As the Allied island-hopping campaign encircled Japan, thousands of Japanese soldiers were cut off from their command and were presumed killed-in-action. Faced with a desperate decision between dying in suicidal charges and going into hiding, most Japanese soldiers chose suicide.
The holdouts, on the other hand, chose to live, even if that meant suffering deprivation, hardship and shame. Most of the holdouts gradually emerged from hiding during the late 1940s and 1950s. A few holdouts — the most famous of the lot — only came down from the mountains ten to thirty years after the war.
The legacy of the holdouts is a complicated one. It would easy to dismiss men like Yokoi, Onoda and Nakamura as fanatic soldiers, or simply deluded men. That simply was not the case, as this book will show.