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Camel, Nude and Forgotten Japanese Soldiers

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

I read an article in yesterday’s Metro about Shoichi Yokoi a Japanese soldier whose war ended 39 years ago yesterday (January 24th 1972) when he was captured by two fishermen on the Pacific Island of Guam. He had refused to surrender as the Japanese forces retreated in 1944 believing that the war could still be won. On his return home to Japan, 28 years after the war had ended, he is alleged to have said “it is with much embarrassment that I have returned home alive”. He obviously managed to overcome this embarrassment as died at the age of 82 in 1997 having become something of a celebrity in Japan.

This story reminded me of an album by the largely forgotten UK band Camel. I was never a huge Camel fan, but they did have their moments, and this album I always thought was one of them.

Nude was a concept album, written by Andy Latimer with lyrics by Susan Hoover, who got the idea from a very similar story as that above. To be honest, before I looked into it for this post, I had assumed it was the same soldier, but Wikipedia tells me there were actually a number of Japanese soldiers dotted around the Pacific islands, all of whom refused to believe the war was over and surrender, and who then got forgotten. Apparently the Camel album was inspired by Hiroo Onoda (the album’s title Nude comes from his surname apparently) who finally came home in March 1974 after 30 years. The last Japanese solider, Teruo Nakamura came home 9 months later in December 1974.

It’s just ocurred to me that I bought this record shortly after its release in 1981, which scarily was 30 years ago and coincidentally the same length of time that Onoda was alone in the jungle. When I think what I’ve done in that time, it certainly puts his ordeal into perspective for me.

So although Nude is in not really a classic album, I did after all this time, rather enjoy listening to it on the way into work this morning.

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