The last holdout, Lieutenant Onoda — officially declared dead in 1959 — was found by Norio Suzuki, a student searching for him in 1974. The lieutenant rejected his pleas to go home, insisting he was still awaiting orders. Mr. Suzuki returned with photographs, and the Japanese government sent a delegation, including the lieutenant’s brother and his former commander, to formally relieve him of duty.The link goes to the long NYT obit, which stresses how important Onoda was to the Japanese in the 1970s because he represented values that contrasted to then-prevalent materialism. From paragraph 4:
“I am sorry I have disturbed you for so long a time,” Lieutenant Onoda told his brother, Toshiro.
In Manila, the lieutenant, wearing his tattered uniform, presented his sword to President Marcos, who pardoned him for crimes committed while he thought he was at war.
[H]is homecoming... stirred his nation with a pride that many Japanese had found lacking in postwar years of rising prosperity and materialism....From paragraph 12:
More than patriotism or admiration for his grit, his jungle saga, which had dominated the news in Japan for days, evoked waves of nostalgia and melancholy in a people searching for deeper meaning in their growing postwar affluence.From paragraph 15:
In an editorial, The Mainichi Shimbun, a leading Tokyo newspaper, said: “To this soldier, duty took precedence over personal sentiments. Onoda has shown us that there is much more in life than just material affluence and selfish pursuits. There is the spiritual aspect, something we may have forgotten.”That says something about Japan in the 70s, but it also says something about the United States right now, the United States as seen by The New York Times, which did not need to publish such a long, elegant, respectful obituary and to put it top and center on its website front page and which chose to highlight the idea that affluence is or can be experienced as a deep spiritual problem.
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