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  Japanese WWII Soldier Dies on Remote Pacific Island

Pentagon: First Class Private Shinozuka Oyama of the Japanese WWII army died yesterday on a tiny island ten nautical miles east of Iwo Jima in the Pacific Ocean where he has barricaded himself since 1945. He died of old age.

Private Oyama was the only soldier of his times that did not receive notification that the war was over.

"We became aware of his existence in 1965," said US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, "when shots were fired at one of our military cargo aircraft."

The US military so much admired the soldier's tenacity and survival skills that they decided not to shatter his world that had been in existence for 20 years at that time, Rumsfeld said.

"We periodically sent Navy Seals to the island to fire off a few rounds and play loud droning sounds over large loudspeakers," he added. Private Oyama always replied with intense return fire and more than a few choice words that cannot be repeated to a public audience. In 1996 he slightly wounded one of the Navy Seals when one of his bullets ricocheted off the ocean surface.

On occasion the Military did a high altitude drop of some essential supplies and ammunition that were donated by the Japanese War Museum.

Military strategists have been studying Private Oyama's daily routine, camouflage techniques, and innovative survival skills via satellite observation. "We have learned a tremendous amount from Private Oyama," said General Miller, "and we mourn his passing away. We feel a deep sense of loss."

Those sentiments were mirrored by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi who said: "Private Shinozuka Oyama is a shining example of Japanese perseverance and loyalty. He will be buried with full military honors."

Japanese military officials have not yet been able to identify any next of kin.

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