Onada crept towards the garden in silence. Fallen branches bent under his step, but did not break. This forest knew him, and it would never give him away.
He paused at the edge of the clearing. Hundreds of leaflets littered his crops. There had been an airplane the day before, but Onada couldn’t tell if it was Japanese. He hoped it was, hoped that his commanding officer had come to relieve him. But of course it was not, orders were not dropped from passing airplanes. They were given in person, face to face. They were accepted reluctantly and obeyed completely.
Onada retrieved a leaflet and retreated back to the forest. It wasn’t safe out in the open, in the garden that he came to only when he must. If it were too well cared for, the enemy would know he was alive, so he let most of the crops wither, even when he was hungry.
The leaflet read: LIEUTENANT HIROU ONADA, THE WAR IS OVER. JAPAN HAS SURRENDERED TO THE UNITED STATES.
Did the Americans think he was a fool? That such an obvious trick would coax him out to be captured? His name was misspelled, his rank was incomplete! Such poor forgery! No protector of Japan would ever accept such shame as surrender! Never would the mighty Empire of Japan fall!
Onada remained vigilant. Here, on this island, to this soldier alone, the war raged on for thirty years.