Re: Onoda

1

Christ, what an asshole. In the most heroic sense possible, of course.
I'm surprised they don't make the obvious connection to other fundamentalism/denialism.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 9:25 AM
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2

I'd heard the story before but I didn't know he killed more than 30 people. Many of them civilians. They should have hanged him for that - even if it had been time of war, it was still a crime, and he couldn't have used the "only obeying orders" excuse.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 9:53 AM
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3

The quotes from him at the end are very interesting. I think this story demonstrates how usefulness of personality traits is very context dependent. His willpower didn't turn out to be so full in this situation -- imagine what he could have achieved in post-war Japan! The same thing is very evident in pro-sports. Kobe is apparently insanely competitive. That's worked out pretty well for him professionally, but I imagine if he was 5'6" with a 24" vertical he's just be an epic asshole.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 9:53 AM
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4

I liked this example of behavior the soldiers found suspicious:

They considered the fact that every time they fired on these "civilians" shortly thereafter search parties would arrive hunting them.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:02 AM
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5

Not to diminish the murders, but I feel like all bets are off, sanity-wise, when you've been living off the land for years.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:06 AM
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6

4: If I had spent thirty years in the jungle, deliberately murdering people whom I knew were Filipino civilians, and then found myself facing a lot of armed Filipino police, you can bet your last peso that I would make up some unlikely story about how I thought the civilians I had murdered were all soldiers in disguise.

And, let's face it, Onoda wouldn't have exactly been unusual in this regard: deliberately murdering Filipino civilians was standard practice for the Japanese army.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:08 AM
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7

30 killed, 100 injured. I'd love to read a memoir from that perspective, growing up for 30 years after the war with a sniper in the woods, not being thrilled at $10,000 after the fact.

The original reminded me that I don't think I recommended Ramona Ausubel's novel No One Is Here Except All of Us, in which a WWII Carpathian Jewish village decides to remake the world into safety until eventually that shared not-quite-reality breaks down, but it's written in what I thought was a beautiful and non-exploitative way.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:14 AM
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8

The line "fighting on needlesy, like a Japanese soldier on a remote island long after the end of WWII" is one I've tried to use in briefs a few times -- a useful concept in what I do. So far it's been edited out by by bosses or cocounsel who insist on making the world even more boring than it already is.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:28 AM
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9

"Needlessly"


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:28 AM
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10

And interesting that Marcos decided to pardon him. From the timeline, it looks like he was big on trade/investment relations with Japan (ratified trade treaty by fiat in 1973 just before PM Tanaka visited).


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:42 AM
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11

"The war isn't over until my unreasonably stringent conditions for the confirmation of that fact have been met" would seem rather less sympathetic had the protagonist been an arisch Bavarian hunkered down in Siberia.

Also, what would they have done had Major Taniguchi not been available? Asked the Emperor to drop by and get on the PA?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:43 AM
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12

I'd love to read a memoir from that perspective, growing up for 30 years after the war with a sniper in the woods

Yeah, quite. And all those massacre/rape/pillage horror stories you heard from Grandma and Grandpa would have been just that little more real if you knew that one of the people who committed the atrocities was living in the woods just out the back of your farm and occasionally appearing to do some more killing.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:47 AM
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13

11 is true but honestly it all comes down to the fact that the Japanese were on the wrong side of WWII so continuing to fight for a horrible cause is horrible. If say a French guerrilla fighter was trapped behind enemy lines in Germany in 1942 and killed 30 German civilians we'd think of him as a resistance hero, and I guess the same would be true if the Axis has won the war and the guerrilla kept fighting for 30 years.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:48 AM
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14

Asked the Emperor to drop by and get on the PA?

That actually crossed my mind -- that surely, there should have been some way to resolve this by sometime in the forties or fifties having some portion of the Japanese command structure senior enough to be personally recognizable spending a couple of weeks touring through the jungle waving Japanese flags and shouting explanations of what was going on.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:50 AM
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If say a French guerrilla fighter was trapped behind enemy lines in Germany in 1942 and killed 30 German civilians we'd think of him as a resistance hero,

Depends very much on which 30 German civilians, don't you think?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:52 AM
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If say a French guerrilla fighter was trapped behind enemy lines in Germany in 1942 and killed 30 German civilians we'd think of him as a resistance hero

Er, no we wouldn't?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:52 AM
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17

Well, heads of state are civilians, right? I mean, someone who was managing to pick off the civilian Nazi leadership, while still probably a war crime, in some sense laudable. Someone who was just picking off Fritz Random Shopkeeper, on the other hand, not so much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:55 AM
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18

Danke!


Posted by: OPINIONATED FRITZ RANDOM SHOPKEEPER | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:58 AM
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19

Halford and LB have dishonoured themselves by breaking the analogy ban and must make the final apology to the Emperor.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:03 AM
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20

This blog post about a visit as part of a local effort to create some Onoda tourism includes a local story that the region avoided logging because of the Japanese vigilante(?) presence and that the nature is better off because of that. Still not actually a net benefit, exactly!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:05 AM
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21

Well, it sounds like some of the people he was killing were civilians but police officers sent out to look for him. But putting that aside if we're going to hang everyone who deliberately killed civilians in WWII we'd probably have to start with most of Bomber Command.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:05 AM
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22

Weird coincidence that the subject of German civilians and the hypothetical killing thereof comes up this morning. Just yesterday in the bookstore I was thumbing through this book, which was kind of morbidly fascinating.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:05 AM
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23

19: The current Emperor seems pretty amiable and easygoing. He'd probably be happy with a polite note or card.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:08 AM
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24

21: Nuremberg Defence: Onoda couldn't argue that he was "only obeying orders".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:08 AM
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25

Ack, can someone delete comment 22? I didn't want to link to my own amazon page. I'm not sure why it went there.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:08 AM
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26

24: so does it depend how close his actual orders were to "keep killing people until further notice from me, personally"?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:10 AM
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27

OK, let's try that again.

Weird coincidence that the subject of German civilians and the hypothetical killing thereof comes up this morning. Just yesterday in the bookstore I was thumbing through this book, which was kind of morbidly fascinating.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:10 AM
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28

Well, semi-tenuously he could claim to be relying on orders -- keep on guerilla fighting forever -- although who knows how much of that was real and how much of it was insanity. I mean I agree the guy should have been hung, but mostly for being a Japanese terrorist launched into the occupied Philippines and fighting for a horrible cause.

On the other hand, say, Bomber Harris (most of the time) could not invoke the defense that he was just following orders -- he deliberately targeted civilians because he wanted to. Can you tell that I'm reading a book on this subject?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:13 AM
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29

25. That link opens whoever's account is associated with the device being used, as far as I can see, so you're probably OK.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:13 AM
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30

Asked the Emperor to drop by and get on the PA?

It being very unusual to represent him, the soldier would not have recognized Showa's appearance, voice, or demeanor.

The national surrender broadcast was believed partly because of the deliberately formal and anachronistic language.

some portion of the Japanese command structure senior enough to be personally recognizable

A lot of them were dead by 1950.

I do try to avoid Japan-at-War, especially WW II, and study the quotidian, the average ordinary Japanese at culture and domestic living in order to determine how under unstressed conditions and in what specific forms the fucking gonzo crazy migrates all the way up.

True story:Hirohito soon after the war and after he had "renounced his divinity"...and very pleased to have tossed that burden...tells his nervous and servile chamberlain that he would like to meet the radio technician who broadcast the surrender.

"Your majesty, he committed suicide."
"Did you try to stop him?"
"No."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:15 AM
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31

This blog post about a visit as part of a local effort to create some Onoda tourism includes a local story that the region avoided logging because of the Japanese vigilante(?) presence and that the nature is better off because of that.

So you don't need a whole demilitarized zone, you just need one psycho?

Too bad John Allen Muhammad did his work from gas stations, not much ecological implications there.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:17 AM
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32

"That's worked out pretty well for him professionally, but I imagine if he was 5'6" with a 24" vertical he's just be an epic asshole. "

According to "The Sports Gene", Dennis Rodman was not a particularly good basketball player in high school. After high school, he had a growth spurt and pretty soon he was in the NBA.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:18 AM
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33

Oh, so now heebie thinks war can be profound


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 1:16 PM
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34

33: No, no, sexy, not profound. Keep up!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 1:26 PM
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35

Can't it be both?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 1:54 PM
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36

Rarely.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 1:56 PM
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37

I think there was a six million dollar man episode about this guy. Every time I think about him I have to remind myself he had nothing to do with Bigfoot.


Posted by: Lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 2:03 PM
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38

He avoided having anything to do with Bigfoot because he assumed Bigfoot was an Ainu.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 3:00 PM
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39

He avoided having anything to do with Bigfoot because he assumed Bigfoot was an Ainu.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 3:00 PM
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40

Too bad John Allen Muhammad did his work from gas stations, not much ecological implications there.

On the contrary! Just as wolves in the Isle Royale ecosystem hunt from watercourses and copses, reducing browser pressure and improving new tree establishment, an increased expectation of gas-station-based predation would doubtless increase the efficiency of our gas use.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 3:50 PM
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41

28: HANGED.

Sorry. Reflex.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 3:54 PM
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42

What I would like to know is whether the ruse that Onoda suspected has ever actually been tried: Have enemy governments ever dropped fraudulent leaflets over isolated guerrillas saying "The war is over! Come down out of the hills," and if so, was it successful at all?

Airborne leaflets don't appear to have a very good track record, but it really seems like they might work here.


Posted by: Ace K | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 4:39 PM
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43

42: most isolated guerrillas can get the BBC World Service on their radios, so the ruse wouldn't work.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 2:49 AM
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44

And, more broadly, there's rarely any such thing as an isolated guerrilla. "The guerrilla moves through the mass of the population as a fish through water", remember? Guerrillas, whether it's the French Resistance or the Ku Klux Klan or Eric Rudolph or the Taliban, depend on the support (active or passive) of at least a significant minority of the local population. Onoda wasn't really a guerrilla in the traditional sense: he was a solo imperialist.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 2:52 AM
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45

I have to say, I'm quite doubtful of the whole "and then we didn't believe that the war was over" shtick. It seems mightily self-justificatory.

Also, the police are absolutely and especially civilians. It's a pretty clear war crime to shoot police, and it's such a clear deviation from what normally happens in wars that alarm bells should be ringing.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 4:33 AM
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46

37: He was on Gilligan's Isle, too.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 4:56 AM
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47

So, I'm not opposed to the idea that he was totally faking it, but... to what end, exactly? "If I pretend the war's not over I can live an isolated, survival-oriented existence with no human contact for literally decades!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 5:15 AM
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48

Maybe he enjoyed it - more than he thought he'd enjoy being a civilian back in a defeated Japan. This way he got to keep on killing Filipinos for as long as he wanted. He got picked for this role by his CO for a reason, and the reason was "I think that Onoda would totally be the right person to hide out in the jungle for years killing passers by". He was obviously considered to be a complete psycho even by the demanding standards of the Imperial Japanese Army.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 5:30 AM
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49

I mean, if you're arguing that in some sense he didn't want the war to be over, that seems pretty darn clear.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 5:38 AM
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50

He got picked for this role by his CO for a reason...

Right. I think we can all agree he wasn't the sharpest kai in the shed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 6:13 AM
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51

I have to say, I'm quite doubtful of the whole "and then we didn't believe that the war was over" shtick. It seems mightily self-justificatory.

Well, remember Okinawa - large numbers of civilians and soldiers committed suicide (in many cases forced, but probably in many other cases not), partly because of what they had been told about the horrors of Allied subjection.

Also I can imagine the sunk-costs fallacy creeping in - if the war was in fact over, he had spent an ever-increasing number of years suffering for nothing, and he was a murderer to boot. Better to believe it wasn't over.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 10:16 AM
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52

Yes, 51 seems pretty plausible to me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 10:50 AM
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53

Now that I think about it, it's sort of strange that we have all of this fiction about secret Nazi sleeper cells (e.g. The Boys from Brazil, The Holcroft Covenant) but the fictional treatment for the Japanese post-war, old Empire warrior is basically a stereotype based on this guy Onada and a few others with a less lengthy tenure.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 10:57 AM
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54

Remember, for ages Onoda's not the only one. The process by which the others flake off strikes me as being readable in other ways than the way Onoda suggests.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-17-13 2:01 PM
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