TV & Radio
Never surrender soldier joins fight to keep women conservative
Mainichi Daily News 2006/11/29
Hiroo Onoda, the Imperial Japanese Army Second Lieutenant who hid in the jungles of the Philippines' Lubang Island for 29 years after the end of World War II because he didn't believe Japan had surrendered, is performing his "patriotric duty" for the nation once again, according to Shukan Shincho (11/30).
This time, instead of trying to continue the war, now 84-year-old Onoda is helping out his wife, Machie, after she agreed to take over as the head of the Japan Women's Association, a body that strongly opposes gender free education and the right for women to retain their maiden names after marriage.
Machie will assume the association's top post at a Dec. 9 party in Tokyo held to celebrate both the September birth of Prince Hisahito and the organization's fifth anniversary.
"I turned down the offer to lead the association many, many times, but they kept on asking me. I talked to my husband about it and he said it's not something I'd normally get a chance to do, so I should give it a try. He promised to help me, so I finally agreed to take on the role," Onoda's wife tells Shukan Shincho.
Onoda is a household name in Japan because of his postwar exploits. After he finally emerged from the jungle (following an order to do so given by his wartime commanding officer), Onoda returned to Japan in 1974. He married Machie in 1976 and they emigrated to Brazil where they ran a cattle farm. In 1984, Onoda returned to Japan and began operating Onoda Shizen Juku, a series of educational camps for youths.
"I ran the camps because I wanted boys to grow up tough and girls to become like angels. I'm opposed to the idea that women have to be really strong in whatever they do," Onoda tells Shukan Shincho. "Of course, there are some wonderful women fighters, but I think we should respect the differences between men and women and allow women to develop the beauty that is such a special part of them."
Onoda has been keeping busy recently, his wife says.
"His lungs are bad, so he doesn't go out much. He's a night-type, so he often stays up until 2 or 3 in the morning, usually reading books or magazines. Sometimes, he stays awake all night," Machie Onoda says. "He likes studying, saying that he's got a lost 30 years he has to catch up on."
The Onodas are expecting to be even busier when Machie formally becomes the leader of the conservative women's association on Dec. 9.
"My husband and I spend three months of the year in Brazil, but I guess next year my husband will be going alone," Mrs. Onoda tells Shukan Shincho. "I'll be giving my heart and soul to the Japan Ladies Association and reinforcing its message to all its 47 prefectural branches across the country." (By Ryann Connell)
November 29, 2006