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Tokyo Rose
by H. K. "Andy" Anderson, 64th SQ


I checked out a book from the public library and have finished reading it. The title is "Tokyo Rose, Orphan of the Pacific" written by Masayo Duus in 1979 and published by Kondansha International Ltd. and distributed by Harper and Row, NY. The book was written in the Japanese language and translated into English by the author's husband, Peter Duus, a professor of Japanese history and director of East Asian Studies at Stanford University. The subject is, of course, Iva Ikuko Toguri d'Aquino, who was prosecuted for treason as an American citizen in 1949 in a costly trial that lasted nearly three months. The jury declared her innocent of seven charges of treason and guilty on one charge.

The author was born in Japan and graduated from a university there. She worked as a journalist and traveled to the United States where she met her husband. She has lived in St. Louis, Boston, and Claremont, California. She now lives at Stanford with  her husband and son. She was able to interview all the people in Japan who were involved in the case in San Francisco and who also knew Iva in Japan. She also spent much time with Iva in Chicago and interviewed most of the persons in the USA who were involved in the case.

Iva, who was born in a suburb of Los Angeles, was a nesei (a first generation American citizen of Japanese descent). She was asked to go to Japan to care for an ailing aunt by her parents after she graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1941. She had been considering entering medical school. Her parents were of modest means.

Being very naive and inexperienced, she neglected to get her passport and travel documents to enable her to get back into the USA in a hurry. This caused a delay when it was time for her to leave Japan and resulted in her being trapped in Japan by the events of Pearl Harbor. She did have a good supply of inexpensive clothing but a very limited amount of money. he was unable to communicate with her parents or anyone else int he USA. Her parents, like everyone else of Japanese descent in California, were taken to a detention camp for the duration of the war. These family members were taken to Gila, Arizona camp with few rights or belongings.

Because of her American citizenship and her refusal to become a Japanese citizen, she was looked upon with disapproval by the Japanese. To keep from starving she was able to get a part time job with a Japanese news agency in Tokyo. Her knowledge of both languages and her ability to type was an asset. The Japanese military, who ruled everything, became interested in establishing a short wave radio broadcast in the English language for propaganda purposes. They wished to attract the attention of allied GIs to damage their morale, get them to surrender, or weaken their resistance to Japanese advances. But they could find no one in Japan with any experience with propaganda broadcasts who had any knowledge of the English language, which was spoken by the Filipino, American, English, Australian, and New Zealand forces who were opposing the Japanese forces in the Pacific. But they had three captured officers who had such experiences, POWs. One was Australian of British descent who was captured in Singapore. The other two were captured in the Philippines. One was an American officer and the other was a Filipino Lieutenant.

These half-starved POWs had already experienced the beatings and death threats that the Japanese captors promised if they did not cooperate. They decided to pretend to comply with their captors' requests but to find subtle ways that the Japanese did not understand to let the Allied troops and sailors know not to take the propaganda too seriously. Most Allied soldiers regarded the Japanese broadcasts as a big joke. But they loved the American music played by the powerful stations and Radio Tokyo provided accurate news in some cases of events happening in the USA. They were starved for news from home because sometimes their mail did not catch up with them for month. Some mail was lost because of ships that were sunk or planes that went down. Tapes that played music had not been invented then and record players were not something that was carried in a soldier's duffel bag. Loneliness and boredom prevailed when they were not in combat.

Iva obtained a second part time job at the broadcast studio because she lived nearby and could type the scripts which, by now, were mostly written by the POWs. Iva met three POWs and became very friendly with them. Because they were poorly fed, she even sold some of her clothing to buy food to slip to them. They started a program which was broadcast in the early evening called the "Zero Hour". The Japanese population was forbidden to listen to all broadcasts and few receivers existed for the public to use. At first the POWs did not trust Iva because she looked like all the other Japanese and their rulers had secret police informers everywhere.

When the Japanese ordered the program expanded, the Australian POW selected Iva to read some scripts, but her voice was very coarse and low and he spent much time with Iva to get her to use a cheerful, lively voice. The POW, whose name was Major Cousins, assured Iva that he screened all scripts and that she would never be asked to say anything that was damaging to the USA. Iva was to call herself "Ann" and when Cousins heard that American broadcasters were referring to their troops as "Orphans of the Pacific", he asked Iva to call herself "Orphan Ann".

The "Zero Hour" program lasted only one hour..from 6 to 7 p.m. Tokyo time. It began with a theme song, "Strike Up The Band", played by Arthur Fielder and the Boston Pops Orchestra. The POW messages were read by Cousins for 5 to 10 minutes. Next came Iva's "Orphan Ann" disc jockey segment. She read a few pert comments written by Cousins. The records played were mainly classical or semi-classical with a few dance tunes. Her voice was only on the air for two or three minutes, followed by news from the US, followed by a "Juke Box" segment of popular or jazz music played by the Filipino POW. More news and commentary followed by male voices and a military march or song was played. The American POW signed off.

Cousins selected the records and wrote Iva's scripts containing shorthand expressions, slang words, jokes and puns which were difficult for non-native speakers of English to understand. When Cousins learned that some GI listeners were called themselves "boneheads", he had Iva address them as "honorable boneheads". Following Cousins' scripts, she occasionally called herself "your favorite enemy, Ann", with a tone of self-mockery, not seriousness. Iva and Cousins never worked on Sunday, but broadcasts were made by others. Iva never made daytime broadcasts. There were five or six other English speaking women who made day and evening broadcasts. No one at Radio Tokyo ever used the name of "Rose". Allied military coined the phrase "Tokyo Rose". Iva made her first broadcast in December of 1943.

In mid 1944 Iva began to be absent from work and missed many broadcasts. She met a Portuguese citizen named Felipe d'Aquino who discouraged her from working for Radio Tokyo. She married him in April, 1945. By this time Tokyo was being bombed heavily and life in Tokyo was very difficult. Food and clothing were scarce and women and children were being trained to use bamboo spears to repel allied invaders who were sure to come. Iva worked at the station only when forced to do so by the Japanese military colonel in charge. For her, August 15, 1945 was a day of victory, not surrender.

In September of 1945, while Iva was being investigated for treason, Lt. Gen. Robert Eichelberger, MacArthur's Eighth Army Commander, had Iva meet him in his office. The general posed with her for a photograph and asked if she received a package of latest hit records that he had ordered dropped from a B-29 and addressed to Tokyo Rose. Iva stated that she knew nothing about it. He thanked her for playing such nice music for the GIs. The American Navy also issued a sort of "tongue in cheek" citation honoring her. Iva was detained, investigated, released because of insufficient evidence, and finally rearrested in 1948. The American press, in particular Walter Winchell and those Hearst publications interested in sensationalism, would not let the case die. Iva was sentenced to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine. She could not pay the fine so her insurance policy provided by her father was attached by the government. She paid the balance after working to make the money after her release.

The author, Mrs. Duus, flatly states, "Iva was falsely accused of being the infamous Tokyo Rose. No such person as Tokyo Rose ever existed. Iva was found guilty by the press who never heard any broadcasts and none were ever recorded and used at her trial. She was the figment of the imagination, a GI created legend."

Edwin Reischauer, another professor at Stanford University, wrote in the preface to the book, "It is sad to note that Iva Toguri was harassed and then jailed for years as the mythical "Tokyo Rose" basically because she was so American. She steadfastly refused to do the easy thing and accept Japanese citizenship. She remained confident of final American victory, and of American justice. She refused to abandon the United States, though her country, by playing false to its own ideas of justice, certainly abandoned her.

Japanese witnesses who testified at her trial readily admitted that they perjured themselves. This admission came later after the US had no jurisdiction over Japan and they were exempt from the threat of US prosecution. Ten reporters waited at the rear of the courtroom for the jury to bring in their verdict. While waiting, they polled themselves for their own version of a verdict. The vote was nine to one for acquittal.

Would you like  to meet Iva Toguri? You might find her on North Clark Street in Chicago. She is becoming quite aged, but she may still be working in the Toguri Mercantile Company started by her father while she was still in Japan.

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