October 8, 1919|
Taiwan, Empire of Japan
|Died||June 15, 1979
Taiwan, Republic of China
|Allegiance||Empire of Japan|
|Service/branch||Imperial Japanese Army|
|Years of service||1943–1974|
|Unit||4th Takasago Volunteer Unit 高砂義勇隊|
|Battles/wars||Battle of Morotai|
Private Teruo Nakamura (中村 輝夫 Nakamura Teruo?, October 8, 1919 − June 15, 1979) was a Taiwan-born soldier of the Imperial Japanese Army from the indigenous Amis tribe, who fought for Japan in World War II and did not surrender until 1974. He is the last known Japanese hold-out to surrender after the end of hostilities in 1945.
Nakamura was an Amis aborigine from Japanese-colonized Taiwan. Born in 1919, he was enlisted into a Takasago Volunteer Unit of the Imperial Japanese army in November 1943. He was stationed on Morotai Island in Indonesia shortly before the island was overrun by the Allies in September 1944 in the Battle of Morotai. He was declared dead in March 1945.
After the capture of the island, it appears that Nakamura lived with other stragglers on the island until well into the 1950s, while going off for extended periods of time on his own. In 1956, he apparently decided to relinquish his allegiance with the other remaining holdouts on the island and set off to construct a small camp of his own, consisting of a small hut in a 20 x 30-metre fenced field.
Nakamura's hut was accidentally discovered by a pilot in mid-1974. In November 1974, the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta requested the assistance of the Indonesian government in organizing a search mission, which was conducted by the Indonesian Air Force on Morotai and led to his arrest by Indonesian soldiers on December 18, 1974. He was flown to Jakarta and hospitalized there. News of his discovery reached Japan on December 27, 1974. Nakamura decided to be repatriated straight to Taiwan, bypassing Japan, and died there of lung cancer five years later in 1979.
Nakamura's repatriation and his perception in the Japanese public at the time differed considerably from that of earlier holdouts, such as Hiroo Onoda, who had been discovered only a few months earlier. One reason for this was the question of his nationality. Born on Taiwan, Nakamura was ethnically Amis and legally stateless; questions of nationality were of considerable importance in the Japanese public at the time, and while the Japanese embassy in Jakarta offered to repatriate him, there were also diplomatic questions over how to treat him in case he wanted to go back to Taiwan. At the time of his capture, he spoke neither Japanese nor Chinese. Secondly, while Onoda had been an officer, Nakamura's rank as a private from a Japanese colony did not excite the public imagination and was likely to raise questions about the role of Japanese colonialism during the war instead. Another sensitive issue was the question of back pay of his soldier's pension. As a private of a colonial unit, Nakamura was not entitled to pensions after a 1953 change in the law on pensions, and thus received only a minimal sum of ¥68,000 (US $227.59 at the time, now US $1,100 in 2015). This raised a considerable outcry in the press, motivating the government to donate over $100,000, similar to what had been offered to Onoda, which in turn generated questions by earlier Taiwanese holdouts and led to considerable public discussion of the differences in treatment of Japanese and Taiwanese holdouts by the government.
- Shoichi Yokoi discovered on the island of Guam, 1972
- Hiroo Onoda discovered March 1974, Lubang Island, Philippines
- Taiwan under Japanese rule
- Takasago Volunteers
- Wretch (Blog), CC: article with a photo of Nakamura (on the right).