Masashi Itō

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Masashi Itō (伊藤正) (1921-2004) was a machine-gunner[1] and sergeant in the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War. He was among the last hold-outs to surrender after the war ended.

War years and post war survival[edit]

When the Americans invaded Guam in July 1944, Masashi was separated from his unit.[1] He hid with two other soldiers and learned to survive in the jungle.[1] For sixteen years, he hid even after finding leaflets declaring that the war had ended.[2]


When the last of his companions, Bunzō Minagawa (皆川文蔵), was captured by woodsmen in 1960, Masashi was convinced to surrender on 23 May 1960 and was treated at a nearby American military base.[1][3]

Later life[edit]

Masashi married on January 7, 1961,[2] and had a daughter. A movie was made about his life. He later worked as a watchman for the Toei Motion Picture Company in Tokyo.[2] He wrote a book about his experiences entitled The Emperor's Last Soldiers, published in 1967.


  1. ^ a b c d Books: Straggler's Ordeal, Time Magazine, July 14, 1967
  2. ^ a b c E. J. Kahn, A Reporter at Large, II-The Stragglers:: Oh What a Miserable Life This Is!, The New Yorker, March 24, 1962, p. 47
  3. ^ Japanese Army stragglers and memories of the war in Japan, 1950-1975 By Beatrice Trefalt [1]