Respectful Insolence

A Japanese soldier not seen since World War II has been found alive in the Ukraine:

TOKYO (AP) – A former Japanese soldier last seen by his family when he went off to fight in the Second World War has surfaced in Ukraine and is returning to Japan to see his relatives after 60 years, the government said Monday.

Ishinosuke Uwano, now 83, had been declared among Japan’s war dead in 2000.

Suminori Arima, a health ministry official in charge of locating war veterans lost overseas, declined to say where Uwano had been for the past six decades or why he had not been in touch with his family in Japan.

He said Uwano was expected to arrive Wednesday with his Ukrainian son to spend 10 days with his surviving relatives in Iwate, about 470 kilometres northeast of Tokyo.

“It’s wonderful that Mr. Uwano can make a homecoming visit in good health,” Arima said.

Uwano was an Imperial Army soldier serving in a force occupying the island of Sakhalin in Russia’s far east when the war ended in August 1945. Arima said he was last reported seen there in 1958.

This is a little different than the stories of Japanese soldiers who hid out on Pacific islands after the end of the war refusing to accept Japan’s defeat, only to be found decades later. This guy clearly knew that Japan had lost and had been living in the Soviet Union and later Ukraine for years. I have to wonder if, sensing that his time on earth is growing short, he decided he wanted to contact whatever family he had left. Of course, this begs the question of why he never went back to Japan in the first place sometime in the six decades since the war ended.

Comments

  1. #1 Roman Werpachowski
    April 20, 2006

    Of course, this begs the question of why he never went back to Japan in the first place sometime in the six decades since the war ended.

    It wasn’t that easy to leave the USSR. Especially for war prisoners.

  2. #2 justawriter
    April 20, 2006

    Uh oh.

    I foresee a visit either to or from that pink Web site.

  3. #3 GrrlScientist
    April 20, 2006

    Maybe it took him this long to learn how to read Ukranian?

  4. #4 Jonathan Dresner
    April 20, 2006

    Japanese POWs in the USSR — of which they took several hundred thousand, mostly in north China, at the end of the war — were used as slave labor for a number of years and tens of thousands were never repatriated. This is very different from the dozens of Japanese soldiers who chose or were ordered to hide rather than surrender in the Pacific. It’s entirely possible he was given misinformation about the fate of his family, or Japan’s position on Soviet-held POWs, and the POWs underwent considerable pressure to convert to communism — brainwashing, to use the common term — and it may well be that he was a loyal (or terrified) communist for decades as a result.

  5. #5 Roman Werpachowski
    April 20, 2006

    It’s entirely possible he was given misinformation about the fate of his family, or Japan’s position on Soviet-held POWs, and the POWs underwent considerable pressure to convert to communism — brainwashing, to use the common term — and it may well be that he was a loyal (or terrified) communist for decades as a result.

    Even simpler: it may well be they didn’t let him leave the country (this is what I meant in my first post). This made him to grow roots in the USSR, which in turn prevented him from leaving after 1989.

    It was not like that Soviet people could leave the USSR any time they felt like it.

  6. #6 Kiwiwriter
    April 21, 2006

    Hey, they’re still looking for the B-25 that Ski York flew to Vladivostok from the Doolittle Raid on April 18, 1942. He landed at Vlad, and the crew was interned in the Caucasus. If they hadn’t escaped captivity, they might still be in the Caucasus.

    And nobody knew what happened to the B-25. If that’s still even remotely intact, American museums will be having fistfights trying to acquire that piece of aviation history. All the others crashed.

  7. #7 Ray
    April 21, 2006

    I’m interested in seeing some live interviews on him which I have not seen any yet. I’m sure something like that will come up soon and his story will be interesting.

  8. #8 Roman Werpachowski
    April 21, 2006

    He landed at Vlad, and the crew was interned in the Caucasus. If they hadn’t escaped captivity, they might still be in the Caucasus.

    Or they were shot for espionage.

  9. #9 Jonathan Dresner
    April 22, 2006

    it may well be they didn’t let him leave the country

    Roman: you’re right, of course; I was trying to expand on that, rather than ignore it.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!