Japanese soldier Hiroo Onoda did not surrender in 1945, he continued to fight World War II until 1974… His war lasted 30 years.
At that time, if a soldier who had been taken prisoner later managed to return to Japan, he was subject to a court martial and a possible death penalty. Even if the penalty was not carried out, he was so thoroughly ostracized by others that he might as well have been dead. Soldiers were supposed to give their lives for the cause, not grovel in enemy prison camps.
I had held onto those bullets and kept them clean all these years. I wanted each one to do as much damage as possible. If I could kill one more enemy with the last bullet, so much the better. That, rather than commit suicide, seemed to me to be what a soldier ought to do.
The islanders called us the “mountain bandits”, the “kings of the mountain”, or the “mountain devils”. No doubt they had good reason to hate us.
I sincerely believed that Japan would not surrender so long as one Japanese remained alive.
We had sworn that we would resist the American and English devils until the single last one of us was dead. If necessary, the women and children would resist with bamboo sticks.
"If I get killed," I thought, "I’ll be enshrined as a god at Yasukuni Shrine, and people will respect me. That isn’t so bad."
Suddenly everything went black. A storm raged inside me. I felt like a fool for having been so tense and cautious on the way here. Worse than that, what had I been doing for all these years?
Gradually the storm subsided, and for the first time I really understood: my thirty years as a guerrilla fighter for the Japanese army were abruptly finished. This was the end.
Philippine troops were lined up at attention on both sides of the asphalt road in the base. They saluted me by presetting arms. Saluted me, if you can believe it, when I was nothing more than a prisoner of war. I was astounded.
The place was lit up like daylight. Taking my sword, wrapped in a white cloth, in my left hand, I advanced toward Major General Rancundo. After saluting him, I held up the sword with both hands and presented it to him. He took it from me briefly as a token of acceptance, than handed it back to me immediately. For a moment something that might be called the pride of a samurai swept over me.
Hiroo Onoda was pardoned by Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and returned to Japan in 1974.
All quotes are from No Surrender My Thirty-Year War by Hiroo Onoda
I believe most photos to be from the Asahi Newspaper.