Shoichi Yokoi

Shōichi Yokoi (横井 庄一, Yokoi Shōichi, 31 March 1915 – 22 September 1997) was a sergeant in the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) during the Second World War, and was one of the last three Japanese holdouts to be found after the end of hostilities in 1945. He was discovered in the jungles of Guam on 24 January 1972, almost 28 years after U.S. forces had regained control of the island in 1944.

Shōichi Yokoi
Shouichi yokoi.jpg
Native name
横井 庄一
Born(1915-03-31)31 March 1915
Saori, Aichi Prefecture, Empire of Japan
Died22 September 1997(1997-09-22) (aged 82)
Nagoya, Japan
AllegianceEmpire of Japan
Service/branchImperial Japanese Army
Years of service1941–1945 (1972)

Early lifeEdit

Yokoi was born in Saori, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. He was an apprentice tailor when he was conscripted in 1941.[1]

War years and post-war survivalEdit

Visitors to Guam can take a short ropeway ride to "Yokoi's Cave", a tourist attraction/monument to Yokoi's life located on the site of the original cave at Talofofo Falls Resort Park. The original cave was destroyed in a typhoon.

Initially, Yokoi served with the 29th Infantry Division in Manchukuo. In 1943, he was transferred to the 38th Regiment in the Mariana Islands and arrived on Guam in February 1943. When American forces captured the island in the 1944 Battle of Guam, Yokoi went into hiding with nine other Japanese soldiers.[2] Seven of the original ten eventually moved away and only three remained in the region. These men separated, but visited each other periodically until about 1964, when the other two died in a flood.[3] For the last eight years, Yokoi lived alone. He survived by hunting, primarily at night. He also used native plants to make clothes, bedding, and storage implements, which he carefully hid in his cave.[2] He hid in the jungle, fearing he might be captured by American soldiers occupying the southern islands of Japan. No one told him the war was over.


This newspaper photograph was described as Yokoi's first haircut in 28 years.

On the evening of 24 January 1972, Yokoi was discovered by two local men checking shrimp traps along a small river on Talofofo.[4] They had assumed Yokoi was a villager from Talofofo, but he thought his life was in danger and attacked them.[3] They managed to subdue him and carried him out of the jungle.[1]

Yokoi later said that he expected the local men to kill him at first but was surprised when instead they allowed him to eat hot soup at their home before turning him over to the authorities. He was in relatively good health, but slightly anemic due to a lack of salt in his diet according to doctors at Guam Memorial Hospital. His diet included wild nuts, mangos, papaya, shrimp, snails, frogs, and rats.[5]

"It is with much embarrassment that I return," he said upon his return to Japan in March 1972. The remark quickly became a popular saying in Japan.[6] He had known since 1952 that World War II had ended[7][8] but feared coming out of hiding, explaining that "We Japanese soldiers were told to prefer death to the disgrace of getting captured alive."[1][7]

Yokoi was one of the last three Japanese "holdout" soldiers discovered.

Later lifeEdit

In this book, Yokoi's autobiography is supplemented by a biographical account of his later life.

After a whirlwind media tour of Japan, he married and settled down in rural Aichi Prefecture.

Yokoi became a popular television personality and an advocate of simple living.

He was featured in a 1977 documentary film called Yokoi and His Twenty-Eight Years of Secret Life on Guam.

He eventually received the equivalent of US$300 in back pay, and a small pension.

Although he never met Emperor Shōwa, while visiting the grounds of the Imperial Palace, Yokoi said, "Your Majesties, I have returned home ... I deeply regret that I could not serve you well. The world has certainly changed, but my determination to serve you will never change."[9]

Yokoi died in 1997 of a heart attack at the age of 82,[9] and was buried at a Nagoya cemetery, under a gravestone that had originally been commissioned by his mother in 1955, after Yokoi had been officially declared dead.


The Shoichi Yokoi Memorial Hall opened in 2006 in Nakagawa-ku, Nagoya. Admission is free.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Shoichi Yokoi" Archived 2007-06-03 at the Wayback Machine Ultimate Guam.
  2. ^ a b Lanchin, Mike (2012-01-24). "Shoichi Yokoi, the Japanese soldier who held out in Guam". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  3. ^ a b Lanchin, Mike (24 January 2012). "Shoichi Yokoi, the Japanese soldier who held out in Guam". BBC.
  4. ^ Mendoza, Patrick M. (1999). Extraordinary People in Extraordinary Times: Heroes, Heroes, and Villains, p. 71.
  5. ^ "Personalities of 1972: Yokoi Shoichi". The 1973 World Book Year Book. Doubleday & Company Inc. 1973. ISBN 0-7166-0473-6.
  6. ^ Lewis, John. "Japan's WWII 'no surrender' soldier dies", CNN. September 23, 1997.
  7. ^ a b Corporal Shoichi Yokoi
  8. ^ Shoichi Yokoi – Police Report of Straggler on Guam Archived 2007-06-03 at the Wayback Machine Japanese Holdouts.
  9. ^ a b Kristof, Nicholas D. "Shoichi Yokoi, 82, Is Dead ; Japan Soldier Hid 27 Years", New York Times . September 26, 1997.


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