Nude – Explained, Based on notes by Shingo Doi

For some while I’ve been troubled by the story behind the album Nude. I couldn’t make out whether Camel expressed an Anti-War declaration or was it simply a story of a war victim. What got me mostly confused was the main character who was both devoted to his country yet questioning its values, and in the end, being unable to live in it.

Nude’s character is based, according to Susan Hoover, on the Japanese soldier Hiroo Onada. However, there were a few other soldiers who’s story was similar, one of them being Shoichi Yokoi, who has recently died.

On September 23rd, 1997, Chris wrote to the Camel Mailing List, quoting from a newsfeed:

The Japanese soldier who hid in the jungles of Guam for 26 years after the end of World War II in adherence to the Imperial Army’s code of “never surrender” has died of a heart attack. Shoichi Yokoi became a national hero on his return to Japan in 1972 for his dramatic tale of survival. He died at age 82 in Nagoya, Japan. Yokoi’s exploits in the jungle fascinated the Japanese, who were intrigued by his diet of nuts, berries, frogs, snails and rats, and how he wove materials from tree bark. His first words upon arriving in Tokyo — “It is with much embarrassment that I return” — were broadcast nationally and instantly became a popular saying.

I’ve expressed my confusion on the List and was answered by Shingo Doi, who explained in detail his views on the story. As a Japanese, Shingo Doi expressed his own thoughts about the album and the character based on the knowledge of his country’s history. Apart for minor editorial changes, this is Shingo’s letter:

…I will tell you about the stories of two Japanese sodiers who hid in the jungles after the World War II.

I will also tell you about how Japanese think about Nude’s character. The Nude story remind us of Mr.Onoda or Mr.Yokoi and also one more person.

First of all, I made a table of what was happened on these soldiers.

1941 Mr.Shoichi Yokoi was drafted and assigned to the regiment landed on China.
1944 Yokoi assigned to Guam.
Aug. The regiment Yokoi belonged to was almost annihilated, he run away into jungles.
Dec. Mr.Hiroo Onoda was assigned as an officer to Philippines.
1945 Jul. Yokoi was thought to be killed in the battle, Japanese government made announcement of his death.
Aug. The War was Over. Of course both two soldiers didn’t know these news, and kept on hiding themselves in the jungles.
1972 Jan. Yokoi was found in a jungle of Guam island.
Feb. Yokoi returned to Japan.
He landed Tokyo first, and then came back to Nagoya, where he was born and raised.
Oct. Japanese soldiers fought with Policemen of Philippines.
Kinshichi Kozuka, one of japanese soldiers, had been shot and killed in this incident.
The other man was Hiroo Onoda, and he run away again to the jungles.
1973 A search party of Japan went to Philippines, but they could not find Onoda.
1974 Feb. A young japanese man named Norio Suzuki, found Onoda.
Onoda told Suzuki that he knew the war was over, but he could not return until his commander order him to release his duty. He seemed to think that he might be thought to surrender if he went home disobeying his duty.
Mar. Norio Suzuki took Onoda’s commander to Philippines. Yoshimi Taniguchi who was Onoda’s commander during the war, commanded Onoda to release his duty. Onoda then decided to go back to Japan.
1975 Onoda went to Brazil to run a farm.
He couldn’t adapt to Japan which had changed so much.
1997 Sep. Mr.Yokoi died of heart attack at a hospital.

“It is with much embarrassment that I return” – What is Mr.Yokoi ashamed of?

The words that Mr.Yokoi said when he returned, were “I feel shame that I have returned alive…” and followed “but I gathered the spirits of heroes left in the jungles after the war, and I have brought them back to Japan now”

Japanese soldiers was lectured that Imperial Japan fights for the rights of Asian countries to be free. And the Imperial soldiers code called “Senjinkun” said that the soldier was not allowed to be a prisoner of war and it’s the most shameful act to surrender. It meant that however hopeless the situation they were in was, they had to fight with enemies until they died in honor.

So Mr.Yokoi felt shame that he couldn’t fullfill his duty as a soldier, and that he didn’t act as he lectured.

Who is Nude?

If you are Japanese, the Nude album also reminds you one more person. His name was Mr. Tetsutaro Kato. He was a salesman, and he was drafted by Japanese government in WW2. He ordered to take care of POW. He worked for them, but they didn’t think so.

After the war, he punished with death because he was thought by POW that he ill-treated them.

In the middle of 60’s, a TV program let people know his story. A famous actor was cast as Mr.Kato. Many people watched this program, and sympathised with his destiny. In the play, he was commanded to kill a man. Of course he never wanted to do harm to others, but he finally did. He just trusted his country, he just obeyed orders. When the war is over, he suffered from what he did in the war. Yes, he couldn’t forget the memory of taking a life for a life to be free…

So now I want to say again that Japanese people think that Nude’s story is not only that of Mr. Onoda or Mr. Yokoi, but also that of Mr. Kato.

Shingo Doi’s letter was forwarded to Susan Hoover (who wrote the concept for the album) in early December, 1997. Here is her reply:

Who wrote this wonderful piece on Nude?? I was so touched by it. Mr. Onada was the original inspiration but we knew there were others. More importantly, Nude was written for all people who face these terrible decisions and must make choices from their hearts. Nude does not make judgements on those decisions. Therefore, Nude was also written for Mr. Kato, most definitely.

One Comment

  1. Glauco Conti says:

    How much we owe to these great people, certainly to Andy and Susan, but also to Chris and Steve? Nude is an album that, in my opinion, has in all the excitement that the soldier (does not matter who is in truth) feels, are also our emotions, fear, indecision, but also courage, hope …Nude is each of us… a masterpiece by Andy and Susan that will always remain in the hearts of fans from all over the world, a pearl for both poetry, narrative and for the music … thanks to all of you

    Glauco
    a big fan from San Marino

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