After spending half his life as a fugitive in the jungles of Guam, former Japanese Sergeant Shoishi Yokoi returned home to Japan today (Wednesday) and received an emotional welcome at Tokyo airport.
After spending half his life as a fugitive in the jungles of Guam, former Japanese Sergeant Shoishi Yokoi returned home to Japan today (Wednesday) and received an emotional welcome at Tokyo airport. The 56-year-old soldier went into hiding 28 years ago rather than surrender to American forces.
Yokoi, who since he was discovered by two Guam islanders on January 24 has been troubled by the spirits of dead comrades in nightmares, told a news conference that he was ashamed to be returning to Japan. He brought with him the remains of two fellow soldiers who died on Guam eight years ago.
SYNOPSIS: A specially chartered airliner touches down in Tokyo on Wednesday bringing the world's most remarkable fugitive back to Japan. Big crowds had turned out to give an emotional welcome to the former sergeant in the Imperial Japanese Army who spent half his life hiding in the jungles of Guam. First off the aircraft were boxes containing the remains of two comrades who died on the Pacific island only eight years ago.
Then former Sergeant Shoishi Yokoi, still weak from his twenty-eight-year ordeal in the jungle, was helped from the aircraft. He was setting foot on Japanese soil for the first time since setting off to fight thirty-one years earlier. When the Americans stormed Guam in 1944, Yokoi went into hiding rather than surrender--a fats worse than death under the old Army code. He lived on bats, snails, crabs and jungle fruit.
It was an emotional moment for the old soldier, now aged fifty-six. Since he was discovered by Guam fishermen last month, he has been haunted by the spirits of former comrades who accused him in nightmares of deserting them.
So his first words to a news conference on Wednesday was that he was ashamed to be returning to Japan. He said that when he recovered health, he would write a book on the last days of the war on Guam in which over forty-thousand Japanese soldiers died. He added: "I don't knew when Japan may go to war again, but my experience might be of some help." His first stop was at a state hospital to receive treatment.