Off To War ... For 63 Years
He's 83-year old Ishinosuke Uwano, and he just returned to Japan ... for the first time since he left as a 20-year-old in 1943 to fight in World War II.
Unlike the guys who turned up in Southeast Asian jungles back in the 70s, Uwano knew the war was over -- he just had the misfortune of being captured in Russia when the war ended. Always the pariahs, the Ruskies didn't release him after the war, but held him and who knows how many others in prison camps under appalling conditions for a couple decades -- time might have stopped for him for those years, explaining why he looks so good.
He then fell through the Soviet cracks, becoming more Russian, forgetting Japanese, learning Ukranian, ending up in Sakhalin and Zhitomyr, 90 miles northwest of Kiev, where he was discovered.
Here's the London Times on Uwano's return:
He will spend a week in his home village of Hirono, in the isolated hills of Iwate. A brother and two sisters still live there. “I’m not sure,” Mr Uwano said, when asked what they would talk about. “I’m sure once we’ve met we’ll find topics in common.”Other than fading childhood memories, you have to wonder what similarities Mr. Uwano and his aging siblings will find. Creaky knees, perhaps? Piroshki vs. O-mochi? Communist totalitarianism vs. liberal democracy?
Tags: Uwano, Japanese war veteran, Russia