Shoichi Yokoi

Dateline: Wednesday, September 2, 1964

Guam, UPI: Two men believed to be World War II Japanese Army stragglers are living a game of hide and seek with authorities on this United States tropical island in the Western Pacific Ocean. Scattered reports circulated about two men seen wearing long beards and G-strings scrounging for food. The most recent report came from Jose G. George, an employee of the Hawaiian Rock Company on Guam.

About a month prior to the opening of the Tokyo Olympic Summer Games, and over 19 years since the end of the Pacific War on August 15, 1945, reports of seeing yet another set of Japanese military stragglers were made. The Japanese fought to protect a massive area from Indonesia to Manchuria after their comprehensive attacks and invasions that commenced with Pearl Harbor in December, 1941.

When the war ended, most Japanese were either imprisoned or repatriated to Japan. But in the years after the Pacific War, there have been some 80+ cases of Japanese turning themselves in, being uncovered and taken in or killed. Most of these cases were in the 1950s and 1970s. Very often, the Japanese were uncertain that the war had ended and wanted to make sure they avoided capture by the enemy.

Sergeant Shoichi Yokoi Displays Clothes to Guam Police
Shoichi Yokoi shows his clothes at a police station in Guam.

The two men in the UPI report were said to be “seen wearing long beards and G-strings scrounging for food”. The man who saw them, Jose George, was driving a truck when he saw the two unusually dressed and famished men. It was also reported that one of the stragglers had a gun, pointed it at George, but the gun failed to fire. The Marines searched but could not find the two reputed Japanese stragglers.

What’s interesting is that in January 1972, a Japanese man, Corporal Shoichi Yokoi, was captured on Guam. Was Yokoi one of the men who Jose George some 7-and-a-half years earlier?

After serving in Manchukuo, the Mariana Islands and finally Guam, he went into hiding with ten other soldiers after the American forces captured Guam. In 1972, Yokoi was alone when he was found out by two local fishermen and captured. When Yokoi returned to Japan, he was an overnight sensation.

“It is with much embarrassment, but I have returned,” said Yokoi on his arrival back in