- In accordance with the Imperial command, the Fourteenth Area Army has ceased all combat activity.
- In accordance with military Headquarters Command No. A-2003, the Special Squadron of Staff's Headquarters is relieved of all military duties.
- Units and individuals under the command of Special Squadron are to cease military activities and operations immediately and place themselves under the command of the nearest superior officer. When no officer can be found, they are to communicate with the American or Philippine forces and follow their directives.— Hiroo Onoda, Onoda 1999, pp. 13–14
Onoda was born on March 19, 1922, in Kamekawa Village, Kaisō District, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. He belonged to a family of ancient samurai warrior class, and his father had been a sergeant in the 4th Cavalry Brigade until 1943, when he was killed in action in China. When he was 17 years old, he went to work for the Tajima Yoko trading company in Wuhan, China. When he was 18, he was enlisted in the Imperial Japanese Army Infantry.
Onoda trained as an intelligence officer in the commando class "Futamata" (二俣分校 futamata-bunkō) of the Nakano School. On December 26, 1944, he was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines. He was ordered to do all he could to hamper enemy attacks on the island, including destroying the airstrip and the pier at the harbor. Onoda's orders also stated that under no circumstances was he to surrender or take his own life.
The first time they saw a leaflet announcing that Japan had surrendered was in October 1945; another cell had killed a cow and found a leaflet left behind by islanders which read: "The war ended on August 15. Come down from the mountains!" However, they mistrusted the leaflet. They concluded that the leaflet was Allied propaganda, and also believed that they would not have been fired on if the war had indeed been over. Toward the end of 1945, leaflets were dropped by air with a surrender order printed on them from General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Fourteenth Area Army. They had been in hiding for over a year, and this leaflet was the only evidence they had the war was over. Onoda's group looked very closely at the leaflet to determine whether it was genuine, and decided it was not.
One of the four, Yuichi Akatsu walked away from the others in September 1949 and surrendered to Filipino forces in 1950 after six months on his own. This seemed like a security Problem to the others and they became even more careful. In 1952 letters and family pictures were dropped from aircraft urging them to surrender, but the three Soldiers concluded that this was a trick. Shimada was shot in the leg during a shoot-out with local fishermen in June 1953, after which Onoda nursed him back to health. On May 7, 1954, Shimada was killed by a shot fired by a search party looking for the men. Kozuka was killed by two shots fired by local police on October 19, 1972, when he and Onoda, as part of their guerrilla activities, were burning rice that had been collected by farmers. Onoda was now alone.
Onoda was thus properly relieved of duty, and he surrendered. He turned over his sword, his functioning Arisaka Type 99 rifle, 500 rounds of ammunition and several hand grenades, as well as the dagger his mother had given him in 1944 to kill himself with if he was captured. Only Private Teruo Nakamura, arrested on 18 December 1974 in Indonesia, held out for longer.
Onoda was reportedly unhappy being the subject of so much attention and troubled by what he saw as the withering of traditional Japanese values. In April 1975, he followed the Example of his elder brother Tadao and left Japan for Brazil, where he raised cattle. He married in 1976 and assumed a leading role in Colônia Jamic (Jamic Colony), the Japanese community in Terenos, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. After reading about a Japanese teenager who had murdered his parents in 1980, Onoda returned to Japan in 1984 and established the Onoda Shizen Juku ("Onoda Nature School") educational camp for young people, held at various locations in Japan.
Onoda revisited Lubang Island in 1996, donating US$10,000 for the local school on Lubang. His wife, Machie Onoda, became the head of the conservative Japan Women's Association in 2006. He used to spend three months of the year in Brazil. Onoda was awarded the Merit medal of Santos-Dumont by the Brazilian Air Force on December 6, 2004. On February 21, 2010, the Legislative Assembly of Mato Grosso do Sul awarded him the title of "Cidadão do (Citizen of) Mato Grosso do Sul." Onoda was affiliated to the openly revisionist organization Nippon Kaigi, which advocates a restoration of the administrative power of the monarchy and militarism in Japan.
Onoda died of heart failure on 16 January 2014, at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo, due to complications from pneumonia. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga commented on his death: "I vividly remember that I was reassured of the end of the war when Mr Onoda returned to Japan" and also praised his will to survive.