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The Emperor's Last Soldiers by Ito Masashi

The Emperor's Last Soldiers (1967)

by Ito Masashi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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101880,191 (4)6
12 in 12 (1) biography (1) DBF (1) Guam (2) history (3) Imperial Japanese Army (1) Japan (4) Japanese Army (1) KCPL (1) memoir (2) NF (1) NIL (1) non-fiction (1) Pacific War (1) SO (1) war (1) WWII (5)



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Ito Masashi arrived on Guam with the Japanese Army in 1944. After the Americans arrived and the battle began, Ito and a few others became separated from the main unit. Following their commander's instructions, they hid themselves in the jungle to await reinforcements from Japan. He stayed hidden for 16 years, long after the war had ended. Ito and other stragglers organized themselves into small units, and their activities were completely focused on survival. They were able to gather useful material from American rubbish dumps, and they fashioned tools for catching, killing, and cooking live animals, implements to collect water, needles and scraps of material to sew clothes, and shoes from tires.

When Ito and his remaining companion were discovered in 1960, they had difficulty adjusting to life outside the jungle. They believed they had walked into a trap, and that the Americans intended to kill them. Ito continued to believe this until he landed on Japanese soil after spending several days in a Guam hospital. Ito continued to talk to his jungle companion in the low voice that had been necessary for their survival in the jungle, even though he was aware that there was no longer a need to do so. After their years of isolation, they were overwhelmed by the crowds and the media attention. Ito was aware that his withdrawal was probably hurting his mother, but he continued to prefer solitude to company. He had trouble sleeping since he had spent years listening for the slightest noise that might signal that he was in danger of being discovered. Ito concluded his story shortly after his return to Japan. I would like to know more about his life since then. Was he able to re-integrate into Japanese society and culture? How did his experience in the jungles of Guam continue to impact his life?

Ito and his companion, Minakawa, believed that they were the last Japanese stragglers on Guam. By 1960, it had been several years since they had encountered any other stragglers in the jungle. They both believed that it would have been impossible for either of them to survive in the jungle on their own. However, another Japanese straggler was discovered in 1972 after 28 years in the jungle.

This is strictly a survival story. Ito doesn't address political issues, causes of the war, or military strategy. It will probably be of more interest to readers of survival adventures than to readers of military history. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Jan 28, 2012 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ito Masashiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Clifton, RogerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I was summoned to appear before the draft board a few months before the outbreak of the Pacific War.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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