Iva Toguri, better known as “Tokyo Rose,” died on September 26, 2006 at the age of 90; she was an American-born Japanese woman who hosted a Japanese propaganda radio program aimed at U.S. troops during World War II.
After college, she visited Japan and was stranded there after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Forced to renounce her U.S. citizenship, Toguri found work in radio and was asked to host “Zero Hour,” a propaganda and entertainment program aimed at U.S. soldiers.
After the war, she was returned to the U.S. and convicted of treason, serving 6 years in prison. Her father was a Japanese-American who owned an import shop.
Caught between two cultures, Iva Toguri aspired to be like all American teenagers.
She wanted to become a doctor and attended UCLA, graduating in 1941, but then there was a twist of fate.
Born July 4, 1916, in 1942, the U.S. government rounded up Japanese-Americans and put them in internment camps.
Iva’s family was relocated to such camps, but she didn’t know about it.
The letters between her and her parents stopped, and she was suddenly isolated without information about their lives.
She needed a job, so she went to an English-speaking newspaper and got a position listening to short-wave-radio newscasts and transcribing them.
Iva then got a second job with Radio Tokyo as s typist, helping to type out scripts for programs broadcast for GI’s in Southeast Asia.
Then, she was unexpectedly asked to host a show called the “Zero Hour,” an entertainment program for U.S. soldiers.
Her feminine, American voice was meant to reach the U.S. soldiers.
Toguri called herself “Orphan Ann,” but she quickly became identified with the name “Tokyo Rose”, a name that was coined by Allied soldiers and that predated her broadcasts.
After the Japanese defeat, Toguri was detained for a year by the United States military before being released for lack of evidence.
Department of Justice officials agreed that her broadcasts were “innocuous”.
But when Toguri tried to return to the US, a popular uproar ensued, prompting the Federal Bureau of Investigation to renew its investigation of Toguri’s wartime activities.
She was subsequently charged by the United States Attorney’s Office with eight counts of treason.
On September 29, 1949, the jury found Toguri guilty on a single charge: Count VI, which stated, “That on a day during October, 1944, the exact date being to the Grand Jurors unknown, said defendant, at Tokyo, Japan, in a broadcasting studio of The Broadcasting Corporation of Japan, did speak into a microphone concerning the loss of ships.”
She was fined $10,000 and given a 10-year prison sentence, with Toguri’s attorney Collins lambasting the verdict as “Guilty without evidence”.
She was sent to the Federal Reformatory for Women at Alderson, West Virginia.
She was paroled after serving six years and two months, released January 28, 1956, and moved to Chicago, Illinois.
On January 15, 2006, the World War II Veterans Committee awarded Toguri its annual Edward J. Herlihy Citizenship Award, citing “her indomitable spirit, love of country, and the example of courage she has given her fellow Americans”.
According to one biographer, Toguri found it the most memorable day of her life.