Norio Suzuki (explorer)
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Norio Suzuki (鈴木 紀夫 Suzuki Norio?, April 1949 in Chiba, Japan – November 1986 Himalayan Mountains) was a Japanese explorer and adventurer notable for finding Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese holdout who refused to surrender after the end of the World War II.
Suzuki was born in Chiba and lived in Ichihara. He studied economics at Hosei University, but dropped out and decided to explore the world. He toured Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In 1972, after four years of wandering the world, he decided to return to Japan and found himself surrounded by what he felt as “fake”.
Two years later, the Japanese media reported that a Japanese imperial soldier Kinshichi Kozuka, a partner of Onoda, was shot to death on an island in the Philippines in October 19, 1972. Kozuka and Onoda burned rice that had been collected by farmers, as part of their guerrilla activities. The news prompted series of search efforts to find Lt. Onoda, who had been considered missing and was supposed to have been staying with the deceased Japanese soldier.
Suzuki then decided to search for the officer. He expressed his decision in this way: He wanted to search for "Lieutenant Onoda, a panda, and the Abominable Snowman, in that order".
In 1974, Suzuki encountered Onoda, who was wearing a tattered military uniform on Lubang Island in the Philippines. He had survived a solitary life for two years after he lost the last of his two colleagues. When Onoda was first discovered, he was ready to shoot Norio Suzuki at first sight, but fortunately, Suzuki had read all about the fugitive and quickly said: "Onoda-san, the emperor and the people of Japan are worried about you." Onoda described this moment in a 2010 interview: "This hippie boy Suzuki came to the island to listen to the feelings of a Japanese soldier. Suzuki asked me why I would not come out..."
Onoda would not be relieved of his duties unless officially ordered to do so. After extended conversations, Onoda accepted to wait for Suzuki to return with his former Commander (he was now an old man working in a bookstore) to give the order to surrender. Onoda said, “I am a soldier and remain true to my duties.”
In March 1974, Suzuki returned with Onoda’s former Commander who officially relieved him of his duties. Then he surrendered, was pardoned by the Philippine authorities, and became free to return to Japan.
After finding Onoda, Suzuki quickly found a wild panda, and had spotted the yeti from a distance by July 1975, hiking in the Dhaulagiri range of the Himalayas. He married in 1976 but did not give up his quest.
Norio Suzuki died in November 1986 in an avalanche while searching for the yeti. His remains were discovered a year later and returned to his family.
- Brown, P. (2010): Hiroo Onoda’s Twenty Nine Year Private War Pattaya Daily News (June 15, 2010). Retrieved on September 16, 2011.
- Willacy, M. (2010): Japanese holdouts fought for decades after WWII ABC Lateline (November 12, 2010). Retrieved on September 16, 2011.
- Sydney Morning Herald, October 8, 1987. "Yeti Hunter Dies".
- Echigoya, Kōji (1992). Bōkenka no tamashii: Onoda moto Shōi hakkensha Suzuki Norio no shōgai. Kōfusha Shuppan. ISBN 978-4-87519-753-9.