Keiji Nagai speaks to the Mainichi Shimbun about his harrowing wartime experiences on Aug. 6, 2018 in the Ibaraki Prefecture town of Ibaraki. (Mainichi/Koichiro Tezuka)

TOKYO, 07 NOVEMBER 2019 (JIJI PRESS)—Former Imperial Japanese Army soldier Keiji Nagai, who survived a fierce battle on the western Pacific island of Peleliu, in Palau, during World War II, died of colorectal cancer at a hospital in the town of Ibaraki in Ibaraki Prefecture, eastern Japan, on Monday.

He was 98.

Nagai, a native of the city of Kasama in the prefecture, was among 34 Japanese soldiers who fought in the Battle of Peleliu and remained in hiding on the island until April 1947 without knowing that Japan had surrendered in the war in August 1945.

In March 2015, he met with then Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo before the couple’s visit to the island.

Former Emperor Akihito, who now holds the title of Emperor Emeritus, thanked Nagai for his long service at their meeting. (PACNEWS)