YoungTokyoRose.JPG (50273 bytes)

Iva Toguri d’Aquino

[Note: For the record, "Tokyo Rose" never existed. Servicemen referred to any female announcer on Radio Tokyo as Tokyo Rose. The woman who broadcast as Orphan Ann, however, at least in the eye of the American media, became Tokyo Rose after the war. She broadcast for a daily program called The Zero Hour, later renamed The Pacific Hour after Japan surrendered. The name of this woman, as the U.S. media would not discover until 1945, was Iva Toguri.]

During World War II Japanese radio propaganda not only distorted the truth, but often fabricated farfetched stories seen mostly as entertainment to Naval, Marine, and Army Air Forces personnel. For example, the Japanese would often manufacture imaginary battles in their nightly broadcasts such as one in which Radio Tokyo reported the loss of 30,000 sailors, “numerous aircraft carriers and hordes of planes.” Another broadcast listed American losses after one battle at almost one hundred vessels sunk or damaged with over 268 planes shot from the sky.Yet another proclaimed the Japanese Imperial Navy destroyed the aircraft carriers Lexington, the Enterprise, and the Saratoga. American sailors aboard the Lexington received the news their carrier had been lost while sailing aboard her at sea.

Not all Japanese short-wave radio programs were innocuous and humorous. Radio Tokyo utilized the strategy of division through racial themes. For example, Radio Tokyo broadcasters often fashioned their broadcasts after civil rights issues across America not only to turn minorities against the U.S. Government but also to spread doubt as to America’s intentions toward minority races worldwide.

The female broadcaster known only as Orphan Ann, ironically, broadcast no such messages of division, and military personnel in the Pacific listened to her for the lighthearted jokes and popular music of the period. Due to events that occurred in 1945 shortly after the Japanese surrender and the U.S. entered mainland Japan, the woman who broadcast as Orphan Ann would forever become linked with a fictitious siren, one the GIs, Marines, and sailors referred to as Tokyo Rose.

During the early to mid 1940s, radio propagandists represented a new kind of mass communication threat, one unfamiliar to the public and the media.  Radio propaganda was rampant on all sides of World War II, but perhaps no broadcaster was as infamous as Iva Toguri - better known to her Allied listeners as Tokyo Rose. The American-born Toguri became stranded in Japan when the war began, and she was eventually coaxed behind the microphone and instructed to read radio scripts aimed at demoralizing U.S. troops in the Pacific. Toguri always maintained that she was a loyal American who had been forced onto the radio by circumstance, but after the war ended she was convicted of treason and sentenced to several years in prison. Despite a lack of evidence against her, it would take nearly three decades before she received a presidential pardon. This is her story.

Although nearly a dozen female broadcasters were given the moniker "Tokyo Rose" during World War II, Toguri became most associated with the name, which along with Hideki Tojo came to personify infamy in the Pacific. As the female Japanese announcers did not reveal their name, they were quickly dubbed by the American troops: Tokyo Rose, Orphan Annie (Iva Toguri), Manila Rose, The Nightingale of Nanking (Ruth Hayakawa) and Madame Tojo (Foumy Saisho).

Iva Toguri was born Ikuko Toguri in  Los Angeles, California on Independence Day, July 4, 1916. She was the daughter of Japanese immigrants who owned a small import business in Los Angeles. During her school years, Ikuko Toguri started using Iva as her first name.  She had spent her youth serving in the Girl Scouts and playing on her school’s tennis team, and later graduated from UCLA with a zoology degree. As a graduation gift her parents sent Iva to Japan to visit her sick aunt.

On July 5, 1941, Toguri sailed for Japan from San Pedro, California, without a U.S. passport. In subsequent years, she gave two reasons for her trip: to visit a sick aunt and to study medicine as she hoped someday to become a doctor.

The 25-year-old Toguri had never been abroad before and quickly grew homesick. She didn’t like the food and felt very alien. In September of that year, Toguri appeared before the U.S. Vice Consul in Japan to obtain a passport so she could return home. Because she left the U.S. without a passport, her application was forwarded to the Department of State for consideration. Before arrangements were completed for issuing her a passport, Japan bombed Pear Harbor and war was declared.

Iva later withdrew the application, saying she would voluntarily remain in Japan for the duration of the war. She enrolled in a Japanese language and culture school to improve her language skills.

 IvaToguriCoatradioJapan.jpg (85260 bytes)

Photo of Iva Toguri taken outside Radio Tokyo on 5 December 1944

With war starting with the United States Toguri found herself trapped in Japan. At the same time she could not receive any aid from her parents as they had been placed in internment camps in Arizona. Unable to return, Toguri lived with her aunt and uncle until Japanese investigators began harassing her for being an American citizen. She refused to renounce citizenship and asked to be sent to an internment camp until the war’s end. The Japanese refused her request, and Toguri had to find work to survive. The months that followed severely strained Toguri both physically and mentally. She suffered from severe malnutrition to the point of being hospitalized for six weeks due to pellagra and beriberi. Recognizing her vulnerability, the Japanese military police repeateedly tried to persuade her to renounce her U.S. citizenship and swear allegiance to Japan—a route many other Americans in Japan took—but she stadfastly refused.   As a result, she was classified as an enemy alien and was denied a food ration card. Her movements were also closely monitored. Toguri spent the next several months living with her relatives, but frequent harassment by neighbors and military police eventually led her to move to Tokyo. Toguri taught piano lessons to survive and eventually found work from mid-1942 until late 1943 as a typist for the Domei News Agency.  At Domei, she befriended American POWs and met her future husband, Felipe d’Aquino, a Portuguese National living in Japan. D’Aquino shared Toguri’s pro-American views, and he occasionally loaned her money to pay her rent.

The Radio Broadcasts

In August 1943, Iva Toguri obtained a second job as a typist for Radio Tokyo. (NHK). Her job included preparing English-language copy for propaganda announcers to read over the air. While in this capacity, Toguri met Charles Cousens, Wallace Ince, and Normando Reyes, all Allied POWs forced to work at Radio Tokyo. Major Charles Cousens, an Australian military officer who had been captured in Singapore. Cousens had been a successful radio announcer before the war, and he was now being forced to produce the propaganda show the “Zero Hour” for the Japanese. Ince held the rank of captain in the U.S. Army while Reyes, a Filipino lieutenant, had been captured by the Japanese at Corregidor. In defiance of their captors, Cousens and his fellow POWs worked to sabotage the program by making its message as laughable and harmless as possible. Over the months that followed, Toguri secretly aided these prisoners by sneaking them food and medicines. Toguri later testified at her trial the shock she felt seeing how malnourished these men were and that she “did everything I could for the Americans,” even spending over half her monthly income bringing them needed things.

CharlesCousens03.jpg (41398 bytes)

Major Charles Cousens

The Japanese ordered Cousens, Ince, and Reyes to design an English-language propaganda program for Radio Tokyo to be beamed to U.S. forces in the Pacific. The program would be called The Zero Hour and would include a female disk jockey who alternated propaganda messages and popular American music. The Japanese goal of the broadcast included negatively affecting servicemen’s morale and inducing homesickness.

Unbeknown to the Japanese leadership at Radio Tokyo, the three men worked to covertly sabotage the Japanese propaganda effort through the use of on-air flubs, innuendo, double entendre, and sarcastic, rushed or muffled readings. Cousens, the ranking leader of the group, wanted a female that could deliver this innocuous version of propaganda but trusting enough to keep the truth from the overbearing Japanese management of Radio Tokyo. Major Cousens had become friendly with Iva Toguri, a Japanese-American girl, who, stranded and unable to return to California. He knew that Iva was pro-American and that she spoke English fluently It was only logical that he chose her to work as the announcer on his radio show as he wanted a genuine American female voice to join his team.

He later said:

With the idea that I had in mind of making a complete burlesque of the program, her voice was just what I wanted, It was rough, almost masculine, nothing of a femininely seductive voice. It was the comedy voice that I needed for this particular job.

Iva Toguri accepted the job at a rate of 150 Yen per month--about $7 in U.S. currency. By so doing, she had taken the first step along the road to being branded as a traitor.

The program originated in NHK studios in Japan, and was beamed to different theaters of war over NHK short-wave transmitters.

The Japanese gave her the name of Ann to broadcast under since the scripts labeled her ANN for announcer. Cousens embellished the name by expanding it to Orphan Ann. Whether this had anything to do with Toguri’s childhood affinity to the film version of Little Orphan Annie is debatable. Cousens, Ince, and Reyes wrote the on-air character of Orphan Ann as playful, friendly, and always cheerful as to dilute the propaganda potential of the program. Toguri as Orphan Ann would address U.S. servicemen as “Orphans of the Pacific,” which had an endearing quality to it when delivered by Toguri’s cheerful, nonthreatening voice (Note: The word 'orphan' was often used in Japanese broadcasts to describe the fate of the Australian forces, caught up in a war not of their own making, sent to defend Singapore, captured and abandoned to their fate by the British). Her first broadcast came in the Fall of 1943. She playfully referred to fighting servicemen as "boneheads and sometimes “wandering boneheads of the Pacific Islands” and always followed the word “enemy” with an innocent giggle as to diminish its harsh meaning.

IvaRoseatMicrophone03.jpg (53649 bytes)

Iva Toguri at the microphone on the air with The Zero Hour

A typical 'Orphan Annie' broadcast, August 14, 1944:

Hello you fighting orphans of the Pacific. This is your little playmate Orphan Annie. How's tricks? This is after her weekend off, Annie is back on the air, strictly under union hours. Reception OK? Well, it better be, because this is all request night and I've got a pretty nice program for all my favorite little family, the wandering boneheads of the Pacific Islands.

Following the news section she said:

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now, let's have some real listening music - you can have your swing when I turn you over to Zero Hour. Right now my little orphans, do what mama tells you. Listen to this, Fritz Kreisler playing 'Indian Love Call'…..boy oh boy, it stirs your memories doesn't it? Or haven't you boneheads any memories to stir? You have? Well, here's music 'In a Persian Market' played especially for you by the Boston Pops Orchestra…Orphan to orphan-over.

You say you want to see me every night, But every time you see me, you want to only fight, I have to say no . . ."

According to union hours, we’re all through today. We close up another chapter of sweet propaganda in the form of music for you, for my dear little orphans wandering in the Pacific. There are plenty of non-union hours coming around the corner, so being see you tomorrow. But in the meanwhile, always remember to be good, and so . . .Good-bye now, Good-bye now, Good-bye now, Good-bye.

These broadcasts were believed to be scripted by Major Cousens, who coached Iva Toguri in reading technique. The scripted words "Thank you, thank you, thank you" and "Good-bye now, Good-bye now, Good-bye now, Good-bye" were later claimed to be used as a deliberate 'wipe out' device to clear the listeners mind of what has gone before. The program took advantage of slang, jokes and puns to get across his hidden message, that Zero Hour was really coming from one American soldier to another.

SoldiersListentoRadio02.jpg (66980 bytes)

Soldiers in the Pacific listening to The Zero Hour

By mid-1944, Radio Tokyo NHK overseas broadcasting bureau had honed and crafted its skills in making authentic American-style radio programs. By patience and dedication, the Japanese had overcome all initial problems and were setting a new standard in radio propaganda, which was unequalled by anything existing.

While she was initially hesitant to get behind the microphone, Toguri eventually became a key participant in Cousens’ scheme. Starting in November 1943, her voice was a recurring feature on the “Zero Hour” broadcasts. Toguri adopted the radio handle “Orphan Ann” and grew adept at reading Cousens’ scripts in a joking manner, sometimes even warning her listeners that the show was propaganda:

So be on your guard, and mind the children don’t hear!  All set? Okay! Here’s the first blow at your morale—the Boston Pops playing ‘Strike Up the Band!'

In another broadcast, Toguri called her listeners:

My favorite family of boneheads, the fighting G.I.s in the blue Pacific.

It is hard to know exactly when the name of Tokyo Rose first came into the vernacular of servicemen. The name certainly predates Iva Toguri’s very first broadcast on November 13, 1943, as GIs usually referred to any female Japanese voice broadcasting propaganda as Tokyo Rose. Some reports credit the first use of the name as far back as December 11, 1941, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It was found in a submarine log book and included the entry, “Tokyo Rose introduced by a jiu-jitsu rendition of ‘Three O’Clock in the Morning,” followed by a line presumably from the female announcer saying, “Where is the United States Fleet? I’ll tell you where it is boys. It’s lying at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.” Other reports claimed soldiers stationed in the Aleutian Islands first coined the term. What is clear is that in 1943 many press reports surfaced regarding Tokyo Rose and her broadcasts on The Zero Hour. At first, many articles expressed humor, a little sarcasm, and outright fascination with this unidentified female who seemed to entice American military personnel.

It is likewise hard, if not impossible, to know which quotes from Tokyo Rose came from Iva Toguri. Only a few audio recordings and transcripts remain. Several women broadcast on The Zero Hour including Iva Toguri. Some estimates say around six female broadcasters, more recently the number has been reported as high as two dozen. This chapter attributes these quotes  to “Tokyo Rose” and not necessarily to Iva Toguri; however, since Toguri ostensibly becameTokyo Rose in the American press in 1945, she is often held responsible for the broadcasts whether she had anything to do with them. One recording that does exist of an actual Iva Toguri broadcast contains the line:

Hello there, enemies! How’s tricks? This is Ann of Radio Tokyo, and we’re just going to begin our regular program of music, news and the Zero Hour for our friends—I mean, our enemies! [slight giggle]—in Australia and the South Pacific. So be on your guard, and mind the children don’t hear! All Set? OK. Here’s the first blow at your morale—the Boston Pops playing “Strike Up the Band!”

The  “Orphan Annie” show was a 15-20 minute D.J. segment of the 75-minute program The Zero Hour on Radio Tokyo (NHK). The program consisted of propaganda-tinged skits and slanted news reports as well as popular American music. Zero Hour was as good as anything that came out of America - it was well produced and directed. A typical hour's program included the following features:

  • A loud opening number Strike Up the Band by the Boston Pops Orchestra
  • Messages from POW's: Hi mom, this is Corporal X, we are OK but we need socks and food
  • The Orphan Annie Show: 20 minutes of high quality American jazz and semi-classical records introduced by Annie 
  • American home-front news: tidbits picked up from America by Japanese monitoring stations
  • Juke Box: 15-20 minutes of popular jazz
  • Ted's news highlight tonight: more news from overseas SW broadcasts
  • News summary: sometimes read by Charles Yoshii.
  • Military marches

The official view of the US government was that these programs were propaganda. This view was not always shared by its armed forces: reports from the US Navy in the Pacific thought that the Japanese broadcasts did a lot for the American soldier on the Pacific atolls. This view was certainly shared by the US Army, and the enlisted men who huddled around at the time of sunset to hear their favorite announcer.

Taunting millions of servicemen with stories of infidelity on the home front, false reports of battle outcomes meant to demoralize them and frequent spins of pop songs to keep them listening, the broadcasts of Radio Tokyo were deemed notorious instruments in the propaganda war.

It is interesting to note that Iva only spent twenty minutes a day broadcasting at Radio Tokyo. The rest of her time was spent as a typist and on scavenger hunts for black-market food, medicine and supplies for what she had come to regard as “her” POWs.

Undoubtedly, it can be argued that the GI-created caricature known as Tokyo Rose did more for U.S. servicemen’s morale than any other single entity in The Pacific Theater. The constant playfulness in her tone, the slight giggles between jibes, and her always friendly demeanor set Iva Toguri apart from the other female propagandists analyzed in the current study and other female propagandists at Radio Tokyo.  Ironically, however, these character traits of Orphan Ann aided in the media’s portrayal of her as a femme fatale, a radio siren whose sexual appeal to U.S. military personnel could not be denied. Her broadcasts became legendary, and the press’ continual attention enhanced her reputation not only among U.S. forces but also Americans back home. In fact, Time Magazine once referred to her as:

..the darling of U.S. sailors, GIs and marines all over the Pacific.

The American press often made claims regarding her that can never be fully substantiated, such as various newspaper articles crediting her with the first use of the term “kamikaze.” Collier’s Weekly reported that in October of 1943, during a period of severe Naval losses for Japan, that Rose warned American servicemen of:

a "Special Attack Corps” created in Japan for the express purpose of suicide missions.

As far as the GI reaction to Tokyo Rose, Collier’s Weekly, reported on June 9, 1945 that:

The GIs credited her with having not only charm but a master mind. They said she heralded the arrival of new divisions in a Pacific theater by welcoming the commanding officers and others by name. They said she predicted new American landings with amazing accuracy.

Stories of Tokyo Rose’s legendary ability to procure inside knowledge of military matters heightened the nation’s interest in her. Questions about Tokyo Rose filled national headlines, especially from ex-servicemen later in the war who regularly listened to her while overseas.

On September 14, 1945, The Havre Daily News, published an article titled “Ex-servicemen want to know where ‘Tokyo Rose’ got her information”. The article asked:

Where did she get recordings of last minute American music that hadn’t even broadcast on U.S. networks? Where did she get information as to who was and wasn’t going home, what we had for dinner, where we were going and what kind of equipment?

Other press reports speculated that South American receiving stations would transcribe news information as it was broadcast from the U.S. and ship it immediately to Tokyo by way of a submarine network.

SoldiersListentoRadio01.jpg (82733 bytes)

American servicemen regularly gathered around radios to listen to the Zero Hour

During World War II, American servicemen regularly huddled around radios to listen to the Zero Hour, an English-language news and music program that was produced in Japan and beamed out over the Pacific. The Japanese intended for the show to serve as morale-sapping propaganda, but most G.I.s considered it a welcome distraction from the monotony of their duties. They developed a particular fascination with the show’s husky-voiced female host, who dished out taunts and jokes in between spinning pop records. She said during one broadcast in 1944:

Greetings, everybody!  This is your little playmate—I mean your bitter enemy—Ann, with a program of dangerous and wicked propaganda for my victims in Australia and the South Pacific. Stand by, you unlucky creatures, here I go!

IvaRoseatMicrophone05.jpg (76046 bytes)

She signed off one of her broadcasts by saying:

According to union hours, we are through today! We close off another chapter of free propaganda in the form of ‘Music For You’—for my dear little orphans wandering in the Pacific. There are plenty of non-union boffs coming around the corner, so be seeing you tomorrow, but in the meanwhile always remember to be good!”

You seldom see any of the messages of a Tokyo Rose broadcast, but there is a dairy by James Heineoki aboard the destroyer Robinson in mid-1944 to late 1945. He mentions her quite often. She says:

The stupid Americans are fighting a useless war.They are being slaughtered by the tens of thousands in Europe and the South Pacific. How would you like to be home now with your best girl. [“You’d be so nice to come to” in the background].

The Americans have nothing to gain in the South Pacific but the lives of their men. [“Bolero” in the background].

The British and Americans are in full retreat in the European invasion [“Tiger Rag” playing in the background].

The foolish American forces are making a sad attempt to gain positions in the Marianas, but the Japs are too strong for them.

Some comments from Heineoki:

Tokyo Rose has reported over the radio that the destroyer 562 has been sunk. They got our number at Lingayen when they came up to our bow that morning. I hope nobody at home heard the broadcast over the short wave. Mom would hit the overhead.

I just heard ole Tokyo Rose over the radio sending us her daily cheer. According to the Japs, we have lost the damn war. Their news broadcast said that we lost two battleships, three cruisers and about a million tin cans.

Just heard from my good friend, Tokyo Rose, shouting her mouth off. She is having a hell of a time explaining the Japs getting their asses kicked clear on back to the China Sea. They sure left the Nips on Saipan and Tinian in a heck of a fix. They cannot even retreat. I feel so-so sorry for them. Here is hoping they will not give up. Then we can butcher them down to the last man.

According to "Tokyo Rose," we are really doing awful. I guess it is bad when we lose more carriers than we have ever owned. They still have good music so they can blab from here to hell for all I care.

The surviving recordings and transcripts of Toguri’s programs indicate that she never threatened her listeners with bombings or taunted them about their wives being unfaithful—two favorite strategies of wartime propagandists.

Things had changed at Radio Tokyo when Cousens was hospitalized following a heart attack and was taken off the air, the heart went out of Iva as well, but she carried on as best she could, re-writing Cousens’ old scripts as much as possible, writing in his flippant style, keeping the faith.

Toguri performed her “Orphan Ann” character on the “Zero Hour” for roughly a year and a half, but she appeared with less frequency as the war worsened. Her pro-American sentiment was tolerated less and less by her co-workers. As a result Iva quit her job at the radio station and found work at the Danish legation, where she took part of her pay in luxury items from the legation’s diplomatic rations, which she then traded on the black market for even more goods for the POWs.

IvaandFelipein1945Japan.jpg (89035 bytes)

Iva and her husband, Felipe D’Aquino, in Japan 1945

On April 19, 1945, Iva Toguri married Felipe Aquino, a Portuguese citizen of Japanese-Portuguese ancestry. Iva moved in with Felipe d’Aquino’s family in Atsugi and contrived to stay away from Radio Tokyo as much as possible. Various women filled in for her at this time, reading straight propaganda as in the other NHK programs. B-29s launched from China and Okinawa began to firebomb Tokyo for days on end.  A month later, Iva was ordered by a plainclothesman to report back to Radio Tokyo. Three months later, the war was over.

Iva Toguri d’Aquino reportedly cheered as the Emperor’s broadcast on Radio Tokyo announced the unconditional surrender. She made plans for a triumphal return to America with Filipe. This would soon proved not to be the case.

At the time of the Japanese surrender in August 1945, Iva and her husband were in dire financial straits.

When General Douglas MacArthur’s plane set down at Atsugi on 30 August 1945, it also carried dozens of military and civilian reporters covering the historic event. Among them were Clark Lee of INS and Harry Brundidge of Cosmopolitan. These two reporters had joined forces to get the beat on the two most sought-after interviews in post-war Japan: Hideki Tojo and “Tokyo Rose.” The former was easy to find, he was under house arrest in Tokyo, but “Tokyo Rose” was a mystery.

Brundidge offered a $250 reward to anyone who could put him in touch with “Tokyo Rose” and $2,000 to “Rose” herself for an exclusive interview. The $250 reward was equal to $3,750 or about three year’s income. $2,000 was over $30,000—a fortune by either standard. Leslie Nakashima, a Nisei at Radio Tokyo, gave them Iva Toguri’s name, which Clark Lee promptly reported to the world at large. Iva Ikuko Toguri d’Aquino naively stepped forward and signed a contract identifying herself as Tokyo Rose. It would prove to be a disastrous decision. Once her identity became public, Toguri was made into the poster child for Japan’s wartime propaganda.

But Brundidge had jumped the gun. His editor at not only rejected the story, but also refused to authorize the $2,000 payment. The money would have to come out of Brundidge’s own pocket unless he could void the contract. He took Lee’s 17-page notes of the interview to 8th Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) Commanding General Elliot Thorpe and urged him to arrest Iva Toguri:

She’s a traitor and here’s her confession.

He also suggested a mass news conference between Toguri and the other 300 reporters, which would negate the terms of his “exclusive” contract and allow him to escape payment.

Not knowing Brundidge’s hidden agenda, everyone agreed and Iva met with reporters at the Yokohama Bund Hotel. She subsequently gave interviews to Yank, Pacific Stars & Stripes and recorded a simulated “Orphan Ann” broadcasts for the American newsreels. Iva thought that “Tokyo Rose” was the popular darling of the GIs, as “Orphan Ann” had always been intended to be. She thought she was now a radio celebrity and happily signed autographs and posed for pictures as “Tokyo Rose.”

AmericanCorrespondentsInterviewIvaSep1945.jpg (174910 bytes)

Iva Toguri D'Aquino being interviewed by reporters.

Iva cheerfully answered all the questions put to her by 8th Army CIC, laughing off suggestions that she might have done anything wrong in broadcasting for the Japanese. She was puzzled by questions about her giving predictions of troop movements and impending counterattacks, talk about wives in the arms of 4-Fs (Iva had never even heard the term “4-F” before, much less used it any of her broadcasts) and other such nonsense, but offered her Radio Tokyo scripts to set the record straight.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the news that “Tokyo Rose” was an American citizen who intended to return to her home in California sparked angry protests.

In September 1945, after the press had reported that Toguri was Tokyo Rose, U.S. Army authorities arrested her on suspicion of treason. The FBI and the Army’s Counterintelligence Corps conducted an extensive investigation to determine whether Toguri had committed crimes against the U.S.  She would remain in custody for over a year until a government investigation concluded that the evidence then known did not merit prosecution, and she was released.

Before the year was out, Toguri again requested a U.S. passport. American veterans groups and noted broadcaster Walter Winchell learned of this and became outraged that the woman they thought of as “Tokyo Rose” wanted to return to this country. They demanded that the woman they considered a traitor be arrested and tried, not welcomed back.

On 17 October 1945, Iva Toguri d’Aquino was washing her hair when three Counter Intelligence Corps officers arrived at her apartment in Setagaya and asked her to accompany them to Yokohama to answer a few more questions. As they were leaving, she was told that she might have to stay overnight and that she should bring a toothbrush.

Only after she arrived at the 8th Army HQ brig was she told that she was in fact under arrest, with no warrant and no charges. A debate ensued as to whether she was Japanese or American, to be fed rice or bread, to be given a futon or a cot.

She finally got the bread and the cot, but was kept awake for the next three days by a constant stream of curiosity-seekers and rowdy name-callers outside her cell. She was allowed one bucket of hot water every three days to bathe herself and launder her clothes. Felipe d’Aquino was denied a visitor’s pass when he tried to see her. One of her guards extorted a “Tokyo Rose” autograph from her by leaving the lights on in her cell for a week.

IvaToguriMug01.JPG (62000 bytes)  IvaToguriMug02.JPG (59188 bytes)

Mug shot of Iva Toguri taken at Sugamo Prison in March 1946

SugamoPrison.JPG (50986 bytes)

Sugamo Prison

Iva’s arrest for treason was announced publicly, but Iva herself was never told the reason for which she was being held. A month later, she was transferred to Sugamo Prison and placed in a cell on “Blue Block,” where diplomats and women accused of war crimes were held. She spent the next eleven and a half months locked in a 6-by-9 cell, allowed only one 20-minute visit from Felipe on the first of each month and a bath every three days.

The public furor convinced the Justice Department that the matter should be re-examined, and the FBI was asked to turn over its investigative records on the matter. The FBI’s investigation of Toguri’s activities had covered a period of some five years. During the course of that investigation, the FBI had interviewed hundreds of former members of the U.S. Armed Forces who had served in the South Pacific during World War II, unearthed forgotten Japanese documents, and turned up recordings of Toguri’s broadcasts. Many of these recordings, though, were destroyed following the initial decision not to prosecute Toguri in 1946.

Early in her imprisonment, she learned of her mother’s death enroute to the internment camp in Arizona and her family’s subsequent relocation to Chicago.

IvaToguriReleasedfromSagumo.jpg (89841 bytes)

Iva Toguri's release from Sugamo Prison

On 25 October 1946, Iva was told at 11 am that she was to be released “without condition” from Sugamo Prison later that day, but she wasn’t allowed to leave the prison until 7 p.m. that evening.

A platoon of soldiers formed double ranks as an honor guard and Sugamo Prison commandant Colonel Hardy presented her with a bouquet of cosmos flowers before escorting her past the reporters, flanked by two MPs. Her husband Felipe, now working as a Linotypist for an English-language Yokohama newspaper, shielded her from the press as they got into a waiting jeep amid popping flashbulbs. Iva had spent a year, a week and a day in military custody without ever once being charged with a crime.

IVAToguri1946ReleaseCustody.jpg (85935 bytes)

Iva Toguri after she was released from prison in 1946

Iva and Felipe hid out for awhile, then she applied for a passport to return home, but was again frustrated by the lack of documentation that had gotten her stranded in Japan in the first place. Iva became pregnant in 1947 and vowed her child would be born in the U.S., but the baby died shortly after he was born in January 1948. It is likely that this loss, too, was a result of her imprisonment. She was physically exhausted and emotionally devastated by this tragic loss.

Toguri made an attempt to return home after her release, yet anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States remained high. Several influential figures—among them the legendary radio commentator Walter Winchell—began lobbying the government to reopen the case against her. The campaign worked.

The Department of Justice initiated further efforts to acquire additional evidence that might be sufficient to convict Toguri. It issued a press release asking all U.S. soldiers and sailors who had heard the Radio Tokyo propaganda broadcasts and who could identify the voice of the broadcaster to contact the FBI. Justice also sent one of its attorneys and reporter Harry Brundidge to Japan to search for other witnesses.

IvaToguriMPsEscorttoUS.jpg (56228 bytes)

Iva Toguri being escorted by Military Police

With new witnesses and evidence, the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco convened a grand jury, and Toguri was indicted on a number of counts in September 1948. She was detained in Japan and brought under military escort to the U.S., arriving in San Francisco on September 25, 1948. There, she was immediately arrested by FBI agents, who had a warrant charging her with the crime of treason for adhering to, and giving aid and comfort to, the Imperial Government of Japan during World War II.

IvaToguriBehindBars.JPG (24905 bytes)

Iva Toguri behind bars

Iva spent the next nine months awaiting trial in San Francisco County Jail, without bail. Feeling she had to stay busy and be of service to others, she helped out at breakfast and dinner, waiting on tables and cleaning up afterward. She worked as a clerk/typist in the Marshal's Office weekdays from 8am to 4pm and embroidered in her free time from 6 to 9pm, producing bright floral designs on three tablecloths for the jail dining hall. She had lost 30 pounds during the sea voyage and still suffered from chronic dysentery. Despite her own troubles, she earned the nickname "The Little Nurse" for her assistance and advice to the staff and other inmates.

The Trial

The trial itself lasted 13 weeks and cost $750,000 (by today's standards, over $5 million); the most expensive trial in American history to that time. No one who had ever met Iva believed her guilty and the local press corps voted 9-to-1 among themselves for acquittal. The government brought in a parade of witnesses flown in from Japan with all expenses paid and a per-diem allowance that would give most of them a good start back home. The defense, paid for entirely by Iva's father, could only afford to bring in depositions from witnesses in Japan, many of whom had already been visited by the FBI and CIC. When the defense uncovered evidence of perjury in the grand jury that indicted Iva, the judge ruled it inadmissible on the grounds that the alleged perjurer wasn't testifying at the actual trial. All references to Iva's work with the POWs was ruled inadmissible as being irrelevant to the question of treason. Charles Cousens flew in at his own expense to testify on Iva's behalf.

ToguriDAquinoEscortedfromCourt1949x.jpg (39107 bytes)

Iva Toguri D'Aquino, known as Tokyo Rose, is escorted from Federal Court
by US Deputy Marshal in San Francisco, California, photo AP

Toguri stressed that she had remained loyal to the United States by working to make a farce of her broadcasts. Charles Cousens even came to the United States to testify on her behalf, but the prosecution produced a series of Japanese witnesses who claimed to have heard her make incendiary statements on the air. Much of the case centered on a single broadcast that occurred after the Battle of Leyte Gulf, when she was alleged to have said:

Orphans of the Pacific, you are really orphans now. How will you get home now that your ships are sunk?

IvaListenstoBroadcastEvidence.jpg (74218 bytes)

Iva Toguri listens to broadcast recordings

This remark, which didn’t appear in any of her show transcripts, proved to be a deciding factor in the case. The jury could not arrive at a verdict. The judge told the jury that the trial had cost the U.S. government over a half million dollars and instructed them to resume deliberation and bring in a verdict. Their final determination was not guilty on seven counts, guilty on one:

That she did speak into a microphone concerning the loss of ships.

IvaandWayneCollins.jpg (82512 bytes)

Iva Toguri and her attorney Wayne Collins

ToguriDAquinozverdictCourt1949.jpg (19796 bytes)

Iva Toguri after hearing the guilty verdict of the court

The minimum possible sentence was five years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine, the maximum sentence was death. No one expected the latter and the local press corps speculated that she would receive the minimum sentence and be out in three years. She was stripped of her American citizenship, given a $10,000 fine and sentenced to ten years behind bars. The judge, whose son had served in the Pacific during the war, later admitted to AP reporter Katherine Beebe Pinkham that he had been prejudiced against Iva from the start.

FBITrialSynopsis22Nov49.jpg (91753 bytes)

FBI Trial Synopsis


IvaToguriEscortedtoPrison1949.jpg (111553 bytes)

Iva Toguri escorted to prison by US Deputy Marshal

WomensFederalReformatoryAlderson.JPG (43278 bytes)

Women's Federal Reformatory at Alderson, West Virginia

Iva was Prisoner 9380W in the Women's Federal Reformatory at Alderson, West Virginia, a small facility in the Alleghenies with an inmate population of three to five hundred, few of whom were vicious or hardened criminals. Most were moonshiners brought in from the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and the Carolinas for federal liquor tax law violations. Although her official classification as a "notorious offender" -- and the reputation of the "Tokyo Rose" legend -- engendered some initial hostility, Iva was soon regarded as a model prisoner by the Alderson staff, always cheerful and helpful, keeping the floors of her cottage clean and shining.

The leather goods and bookends that she made in the prison handicrafts program won three 1st Prizes and one 2nd Prize at the 1952 West Virginia State Fair. Her IQ tested out at 130 on the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale.

Iva was also highly lauded for the quality and quantity of her work at the prison. She worked first as a supply clerk, then did a card study, then became an assistant to the medical aide, working her way up to X-ray operator, medical purchaser and finally laboratory assistant, where her duties included running the X-ray lab, taking EKGs and testing Basic Metabolism Rates (BMR). Her own BMR was 84, the highest she ever tested, which concerned the prison doctor so much that he put her on tranquilizers, to which she reacted badly. Her family visited her as often as possible and she played bridge with the other inmates, including Mildred Gillars, who was serving 10 to 30 years for treason for her "Axis Sally" radio propaganda broadcasts from Berlin. Iva continued to correspond with Felipe in Japan and her family in Chicago.

Iva’s official prison record speaks most eloquently for itself. On 17 June 1953, Iva received her one and only disciplinary action, a reprimand and loss of “meritorious good time” (MGT) for the month of June. Her offense? She extracted another inmate’s rotten tooth without authorization or supervision during the absence of the Dental Officer.

IvaToguriPrisonParol195602.jpg (46398 bytes)

Reporters interview Iva Toguri upon her parole from prison

Finally after serving six years and two months she was released on parole to face another round of protest. As she walked out of the prison, she was handed a deportation notice ordering her back to Japan. . Even so, she earned an early release after serving six years and two months, by virtue of 1,200 days of accumulated MGT, only to face yet another round of public protest. As she walked out of Alderson prison, on 28 January 1956, she was handed a deportation notice ordering her back to Japan.

Life after Prison and Pardon

She reunited with her family, settled in Chicago and began working as an employee at her father family gift shop business, but her reputation as “Tokyo Rose” continued to follow her. She was forced to fight off a deportation order from the U.S. government, and received no answer from repeated presidential pardon requests. She mostly stayed away from the press, granting occasional interviews considering the newfound media interest in her life’s story. The press continued to report on the trial’s corruption allegations, and some papers expounded upon the fact that Cousens received credit for his efforts to thwart the Japanese propaganda machine for doing the same thing that sent Iva Toguri to prison.

Iva's lawyer, Wayne Collins, took her into his home for the two years it took to fight the deportation order. Iva joined her family in Chicago and did her best to disappear, to put the past behind her. A few years later, former AP Japanese Bureau Chief Rex B. Gunn became the first journalist to speak out on Iva's behalf. 

Stories regularly came out regarding her treason trial and how it may have been a gross miscarriage of justice. For example, of the 340 known broadcasts Iva Toguri made on The Zero Hour, only a small number, around thirteen, existed. Of those that did, none contained anything more than playful banter and introduction to popular musical selections, just as the defense team contended in the trial. Veterans of World War II began openly expressing support for Iva Toguri. One poll done for a graduate thesis and published in a Christian Science Monitor article indicated roughly 93% of Pacific War veterans felt The Zero Hour did not lower morale with 84% claiming the program to be entertainment.

Probably the first call to pardon Iva Toguri occurred way back in 1956 when the press reported a petition backed by the Culticeward American Legion, composed of Pacific War veterans calling upon President Dwight D. Eisenhower to exonerate Iva Toguri. This and subsequent calls to pardon her all fell on deaf ears, because in the years immediately following her trial, the press, and the American people, did not feel it justified. But with the nation’s changing sentiments on the matter, plus a newfound rethinking of Iva Toguri’s situation in the American press by the early 1970s led to a new call for a presidential pardon, this one coming from the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), a thirty-thousand-member organization. JACL felt that Toguri’s conviction resulted from a combination of factors including: racial prejudice, Anti-Japanese hysteria in the late 1940s, corruption surrounding the trial, and the media defining her as a traitor. Interestingly, the media supported the request for Toguri’s executive pardon. News reports came out from former jurors and trial witnesses who claimed to have been pressured to side against Iva Toguri. One article stated:

The proceedings were marred by bribery, government obstruction, unscrupulous journalism, missing evidence [“lost tapes” and transcripts] mistaken identity, witness intimidation, violation  of constitutional safeguards, and racism.

Petitions for a Presidential pardon were filed with the Eisenhower administration in 1954, the Johnson administration in 1968, and the Nixon/Ford administration in 1976.

The final chapter of the Iva Toguri/Tokyo Rose saga revolved around changing American sentiments regarding women in society as well as a revised portrayal of Toguri in the press. The legal hardships Iva Toguri endured after the end of the Second World War directly resulted from a combination of factors: the American mass media disseminating misinformation regarding her, popular columnists like firebrand columnist Walter Winchell calling for her prosecution, and Clarke Lee and Harry T. Brundidge’s Tokyo Rose confession. Ironically, the same press that helped convict Iva Toguri played a large roll in her eventual pardon.

As the 1950s ended, the media kept the legend of Tokyo Rose alive with occasional articles throughout the 1960s. Many of the articles dealt with the federal government’s quest for the $10,000 fine Toguri owed. In 1968, the government seized two of Iva Toguri’s insurance policies valued at around $4,745. The action launched a new wave of interest in the Tokyo Rose legend.

In the 1960s, the American press occasionally told humorous stories regarding Tokyo Rose.

On July 19, 1961, The Chicago Daily Tribune, published an article titled “Unsuccessful Siren”in which it reported that Marines serving in the South Pacific listened to a broadcast where she teased them for being in such drought conditions that they were rationed to one canteen a day for washing and drinking. According to the story, Rose claimed she wished there could be something done about the dry, almost intolerable heat the servicemen endured. However, no drought existed where the Marines were. In fact:

It had been raining for days. In at least one tent, the radio receiver was on stacked foot lockers to keep it dry, the listeners sat on cots with their feet curled up, and flood water swirled in on one side and out the other, wetting the canvas and the cots. Just as Tokyo Rose seemed ready to choke from thirst on her own story, the commanding officer’s prized white tennis shoes floated by, jungle bound.

The author then claimed that Tokyo Rose’s broadcast kept the night from being “pretty glum.”

Around the turn of the decade, the media’s narrative of Tokyo Rose and Iva Toguri rapidly began changing. Stories regularly came out regarding her treason trial and how it may have been a gross miscarriage of justice. For example, of the 340 known broadcasts Iva Toguri made on The Zero Hour, only a small number, around thirteen, existed. Of those that did, none contained anything more than playful banter and introduction to popular musical selections, just as the defense team contended in the trial. Veterans of World War II began openly expressing support for Iva Toguri.

On August 26, 1973, David Holmstrom reported in The Journal News, that of 94 men who listened to The Zero Hour while serving in the Pacific:

89% recognized it as propaganda, and less than 10% felt "demoralized" by it.

93% of Pacific War veterans felt The Zero Hour did not lower morale

84% listened because the program had "good entertainment".

Less than 10% felt "demoralized",

One of the interviewed veterans remarked:

Lots of us thought she was on our side all along.

CBS correspondent Bill Kurtis produced the 4 November 1969 broadcast of The Story of "Tokyo Rose" documentary for CBS in 1969.

Iva Toguri told Bill Kurtis:

I suppose, if they found someone and got the job over with, they were all satisfied. It was Eeny, Meeny, Miney … and I was Moe.

The trial? Well, it covered thirteen weeks and there was just a multitude of witnesses who appeared whom I’d never seen before, never heard of before and yet they professed to have known me. They testified that they saw the broadcasts, heard the broadcasts, which was impossible because the Allied POWs were under guard and they couldn’t have got into the studio. But they all testified that they heard me say these things and they saw me actually perform. So many witnesses were brought over here. I suppose, after the war, they were asked to come and given so much and three meals a day, a trip to the US, that a lot of people just jumped at the chance. It didn’t make any difference what sort of witness they would make.

When Wayne Collins died in 1974, his son, Wayne Collins Jr, took up the fight.

In 1976, investigative journalists found two key witnesses that admitted that they had been threatened and goaded into testifying against her. One of them said:

She got a raw dead. She was railroaded into jail.

Around that same time, the foreman of her jury said that the judge in the case had pressed for a guilty verdict.

60MinutesTokyoRose.jpg (47240 bytes)  IvaToguri60Minutes.jpg (69598 bytes)

Morley Safer produced a 60 Minutes interview with "Tokyo Rose"

For only the second and so far the last public interview in the fifty years since the trial, Iva agreed to appear on "60 Minutes" in 1976, for what became the ground-breaking event leading to her pardon by President Gerald Ford. Morley Safer produced a segment for 60 Minutes that helped bring the pardon movement to public awareness.

Several articles produced interviews from former treason trial jurors who expressed remorse for the outcome of the trial but felt threatened at the time by government officials who routinely pressed them for a guilty verdict.

On March 5, 1976, The Bridgeport Post, published an article titled "Tokyo Rose may yet be heroine; Jury pressed to find her guilty". The article reported that:

Iva Toguri was pre-tried by the press and convicted before the trial.

On March 23, 1976 the Chicago Tribune published an article titled: “Tokyo Rose ‘just a scapegoat’: Husband,”. The article quoted Toguri’s estranged husband, Felipe d’Aquino, stating that his wife became a victim of postwar hatred prevalent in the U.S. at the time. Felipe d’Aquino also stated in the interview that his wife could not have been the seductive voice most GIs remember chastising them over the radio because his wife had a voice that sounded like “Molly’s on the Fibber McGee and Molly show.” He added:

Believe me, Iva was the furthest thing from a siren you could imagine.

Incidentally, Felipe d’Aquino remained barred from entering the U.S., and Toguri, stripped of her American citizenship, could not leave. By 1976, the couple had not seen one another for almost thirty years.

On August 9, 1976, The Los Angeles Times wrote that her conviction had been based on:

...perjured testimonies of two ‘witnesses’ who, 27 years later, admitted that they were coached by the prosecutor under severe duress.

By the mid 1970s, lingering frustrations nationwide over the government’s handling of The Vietnam War, ongoing civil rights problems, a more radical feminist movement, and a pervasive anti-government mood swept over America.The nation still reeled from post-Watergate fallout resulting in the August 9, 1974, resignation of President Richard Nixon. Articles with titles such as “‘Tokyo Rose’ Was a Victim of War Hysteria,” “Tokyo Rose Still Suffers from Myth,” and “Let’s Forgive Tokyo Rose” graced newspapers all over the nation in the mid-1970s. A national momentum to pardon Iva Toguri spread throughout the United States. The same mass media that helped convict Iva Toguri now championed her cause. Editorials outright called for an executive pardon, and the Japanese American Citizens League continued putting pressure on President Gerald Ford to finally end her decades’ old struggle with the federal government.

In an article dated December 13, 1976 the Christian Science Monitor stated:

She doesn’t expect to be exonerated for her deeds. She just wants to end this lonely limbo which the law long ago consigned her.

On December 12, 1976, the Los Angeles Times published a letter to President Ford from a former U.S. Marine and veteran of the Pacific Campaign, who appealed for a presidential pardon on behalf of Iva Toguri. The letter closed with the statement:

...after all, it was only two years ago that you displayed your great courage by pardoning ex-President Nixon in the face of much public criticism.

The pardon finally came on January 19, 1977, President Ford’s last day in office. The press celebrated Toguri’s pardon, which ended almost thirty years of hardship and turmoil for the Toguri family. The federal government reinstated Toguri’s citizenship. When asked by the press what her plans were now, Toguri, never one to say very much, simply replied:

to finish this day…

Iva Toguri spent the remaining decades of her life working her family gift shop, granting occasional interviews, and trying to move past the hardships of the past, which included almost two years of incarceration in Japan, years spent away from America and her family, a broken marriage, a treason trial, subsequent prison term, and two and a half decades thereafter without a country or legal permanent residence. Her name never completely left the American press. To this day, articles still find their way into circulation, remembering the trial, the war years, and the legend of the mythical Tokyo Rose. Being that Independence Day was also her birthday, articles circulated whenever Toguri reached a new age-related milestone, such as turning eighty years old in 1996.

On June 26, 2003 the Far Eastern Economic Review published:

The story Iva wants to tell, is the story of the heroism of the people who stood up for the truth… To the loyalty and courage of Iva Ikuko Toguri. She never changed her stripes.

In the media’s eye, Iva Toguri went from an entertaining mythical figure named by lonely servicemen to a femme fatale traitor who wished to undermine GI morale to a patriotic elderly woman who, despite innumerable hardships and injustice, never lost her love for country.

Iva Toguri reluctantly divorced Felipe D'Aquino a few years later, since she would never leave the U.S. again and he was forbidden entry as an undesirable alien, but she never stopped loving him. He died in Japan in November 1996, forty-three years after their forced separation and fifteen years after the divorce, but to Iva it was still like losing him all over again.


OldTokyoRose.JPG (41428 bytes)

Iva Toguri D'Aquino in her later years

Iva Toguri D'Aquino, died of natural causes at home in Chicago on 26 September 2006. She was 90.

You can either sit in a room and feel sorry for yourself or you can go outside and look ahead. I’ve tried to look ahead. … I try to forget the past and live with an eye to the future, trying to make a new life for myself while I forget the old one. … I believe in what I did. I have no regrets, and I don’t hate anyone for what happened.   -- Iva Toguri, to Masayo Umezawa Duus, 20 May 1976.

Tokyo Rose presented the U.S. with a new type of political weapon, one using feminine charms. The name Tokyo Rose still conjures negative images of a sultry and alluring  radio siren.  She set the tone for how all female radio propagandists would be portrayed and compared.




As a propagandist, Tokyo Rose regularly played loosely with the facts. Part of Rose’s allure to U.S. soldiers, aside from her vocal femininity, centered around The Zero Hour’s habit of grossly reporting false information. So much, in fact, GIs found it humorous. Likewise, the American press heavily covered this aspect of Tokyo Rose’s unfolding story. More than likely Rose’s unrealistic accounts of battles and her constantly unbelievable prognostications of American defeat not only added humor to the ongoing media narrative of Tokyo Rose but diluted her potency as a weapon of persuasion against U.S. forces. In short, the media most likely pushed these stories as a way of diminishing her as a weapon of enemy propaganda. “Everything she said is wrong,” one article reported in August of 1943. In fact:

She was so wrong that the boys were vastly entertained. They began to look forward each night to her broadcasts for laughs. Some day when Yanks get to Tokyo, they are going to look her up and thank her for the entertainment she unintentionally gave them.135

Rose’s proclamations greatly amused servicemen.136 Some articles pronounced her more popular than Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and Bing Crosby. Soldiers, Marines, and sailors were often quoted in articles about their predicted misfortunes. One Marine private remarked that:

She told about our unit being wiped out and there we were sitting around listening to our downfall. Her function was to destroy our morale and make us homesick, but instead we got a big laugh.137

Journalist Charles Arnot reported that the “smooth-tongued Nipponese siren of the Jap propaganda air waves”138 broadcasted triumphantly that the Japanese Imperial Navy wiped out an entire carrier task force fighting near the Marshal Islands in December of 1943. The task force actually sank two Japanese cruisers and four other warships in the area, and the men serving aboard the carrier enjoyed hearing Tokyo Rose tell her version of events. The article claimed this was the seventh reported sinking of that aircraft carrier by Tokyo Rose. One journalist, referencing the same incident, quipped that the carrier’s crew felt “pretty sorry for themselves” for having to listen “to Tokyo Rose at the bottom of Davy Jones’ Locker.”139

Following a highly successful bombing mission of B-29s over Kyushu Island, which left aircraft manufacturing plants engulfed in pillars of smoke rising some fifteen thousand feet in the air, the press quoted the flights’ group commander as stressing, “if Tokyo Rose says we missed the objective, Hirohito’s ancestors ought to be turning back-flips in their graves tonight for shame.”140 The press pushed these humorous stories most likely due to the increasing optimism in the U.S. that Allied forces were slowly winning the war in the Pacific.141

As American Naval successes in the Marshall Islands, Saipan, and other South Pacific island campaigns mounted, the propaganda from Radio Tokyo also increased. In critiquing Rose’s broadcasts, one article declared that:

It is nothing new for Allies fighting men in the Pacific to listen to the line of “horseradish” ground out by that smooth-spoken sob sister, Tokyo Rose. If the Japanese officials knew how much entertainment she afforded, they probably would take her off the air, or at least cut down on her allowance for records of sentimental American songs. Or maybe they would just get her a sponsor. Tokyo Rose has sunk the American Pacific fleet so many times that she probably has lost track of the number herself.142

The article went on to add that Rose’s propaganda became so exciting to servicemen that they hated to miss a single broadcast in fear of missing the best parts of whatever battle the U.S. Navy presumably lost on any day. “It is difficult to figure out even distorted logic for this chaos of lies,” the article concluded. “But one cannot help feeling that the Japanese public will receive a shock when somebody tells them that everything isn’t rosy in Tokyo.”

As before, the article sought to discredit Tokyo Rose as a formidable propaganda presence. This falls in line with the national press’ mission to contain Rose and other female radio sirens as mere novelties and not potent political hucksters of enemy nations. The purpose, as stated previously, seemed more to demystify the Pacific siren to the American public than to publicize her merely for entertainment’s sake. Through demystification, any power Tokyo Rose had over U.S. forces in the Pacific became diminished.143

While U.S. Marines were already driving their war far inland on Saipan, Tokyo Rose reported the Japanese were gallantly stopping them from establishing a beachhead on the island. The battle-hardened leathernecks found such broadcasts not only laughable but relished the tunes she would play between the broadcasts such as “Springtime in the Rockies.”144 As with the other women analyzed in this study, the American press lampooned them for their sexuality, their gross exaggerations, and their musical selections. Any discussion of their intellectual acumen never took place; this level of critique was reserved for their male counterparts. These women were, for all practical purposes, sexual creatures out to destroy military morale. Tokyo Rose and her successors broadcast mainly to U.S. forces. Their soliloquies were directed at U.S. troops though heard stateside by short-wave listeners. The male propagandists, on the other hand, were mostly directed at the American mainland. The media often reiterated this fact and described them as little more than glorified DJs.

With regularity, The Zero Hour broadcast news items such as “14 hundred American planes”145 destroyed in air-to-air combat and that American casualties, for example on Saipan, numbered at around nineteen thousand. Journalists often chided her for such fictional battle accounts while praising her for the entertainment value and music all at the same time. As one article put it, “she will probably continue to be our most popular enemy until our bombers release her from the air.”146

Propaganda lines such as these underscored the extreme fabrication of events Radio Tokyo broadcast during the latter years of the war. American forces scored significant victories in 1944 against a rapidly retreating Japanese military including The Marianas Turkey Shoot in June where the U.S. Navy downed some 220 Japanese aircraft, the Marine invasion of Guam, and Naval victories at Leyte in the Philippines. Furthermore, American B-29s began bombing mainland Japan in June of 1944. Hearing Tokyo Rose broadcast that Japanese forces were winning the war in the face of so many irreplaceable losses would have certainly entertained Americans fighting in the Pacific.

Most of the coverage regarding Tokyo Rose in the American press in 1944 remained focused on her overly embellished and often ludicrous account of battles and confrontations with Japanese troops. For example, Marines fighting on the Solomon Islands heard from The Zero Hour that they had all been wiped out by superior Japanese forces. The Marines, according to one article, pinched one another just to make sure they had not been wiped out.147 Sometimes the Marines would even take Rose’s advice knowing warnings from her usually meant action ahead. For instance, in Guam Tokyo Rose once warned Marines to keep their guns oiled and clean because a Japanese counterattack was imminent. Happily, as if in compliance, the Marines did just that, cleaned their guns. When the attackers came, the Marines repulsed them.148 Ironically, the media generally did not acknowledge the value of intelligence that occasionally came from Rose’s broadcasts. There again, Radio Tokyo made countless such predictions of imminent attacks and doom for servicemen.



There were attempts to field American announcers to compete with Tokyo Rose’s broadcasts, but poor radio reception in the Pacific Theater from signals originating from the U.S. coupled with lukewarm listening interest of military personnel rendered these efforts mostly moot. An answer to Tokyo Rose came from Martha Wilkerson who broadcast to U.S. troops in World War II. The press barely covered her, however, but her nickname, GI Jill, could be heard over shortwave radio playing American tunes and reading letters from wives and girlfriends to soldiers stationed in the Pacific Theater.151 Another official answer to Tokyo Rose belonged to Carmen Ligaya, a Filipino guerilla leader who, with U.S. backing, attempted to dethrone Tokyo Rose as the most listened to siren in the Pacific Theater.152 She failed in this endeavor.

Nonetheless, Tokyo Rose became so popular an attraction for servicemen by 1944 that some articles even suggested that she could win a radio popularity poll over anything else on the air, including American produced short-wave radio entertainment.153 Some press reports quoted U.S. soldiers and Marines as preferring Tokyo Rose to any American “morale” broadcasts for a variety of reasons, including the entertainment factor ofThe Zero Hour, the musical selections, and as one article stated, “everyone is getting tired of the word ‘morale.’”154 Other articles mentioned that GIs listened to Tokyo Rose primarily due to not being able to pick up any other stations.155 The typical short-wave radio sets GIs had in the field were not powerful enough to pick up stateside broadcasts. Radio Tokyo broadcast from a powerful station and could be picked up with ease, even on remote Pacific islands. GIs in Korea and Vietnam faced the same difficulties; yet another reason why those radio sirens also enjoyed mass popularity with U.S. servicemen.

Occasionally the press even went as far as to call Tokyo Rose an unconventional “friend” of men fighting in the South Pacific.156 Some journalists wrote that U.S. troops often expressed concern that Radio Tokyo would eventually be bombed or that someone might end up letting Emperor Hirohito know the propaganda value of his radio investment only served to entertain American personnel and not demoralize them as planned. In fact, the American press often credited Tokyo Rose as being the biggest morale builder of the entire war for America’s Pacific fighting men. Her broadcasts were so popular that at one point KYA, a popular radio station in San Francisco, received sponsorship and permission from the FCC and the Office of War Information to rebroadcast some of her programs stateside.157

Perhaps one of the biggest yarns attributed to Tokyo Rose involved a Japanese pilot who took off from his air base and, disregarding his own safety, shot down several U.S. fighter planes on his own, managed to drop a bomb “squarely down the stack of a Missouri-class battleship,” bombed the flight-deck of an Essex-class aircraft carrier, and upon his return home ambushed another eight U.S. fighters, downing most of them. After he landed, air crews discovered the pilot was dead; furthermore, he had been dead for at least three hours, or almost his entire time  away. Tokyo Rose ended the recitation by saying, “His indomitable spirit carried him on to fulfill his glorious mission. Even in death the Japanese are superior to the cowardly Yankees. Such courage cannot be overcome!”158 These stories helped to keep alive the legendary status of Tokyo Rose. Despite the media’s best efforts at marginalizing her propaganda effect, she maintained a certain allure that captivated military personnel, at least enough so that they continually tuned in to her nightly broadcasts.

American forces reacted to Rose’s exaggerated propaganda broadcasts in various ways. As the Pacific campaign progressed, and the U.S. Navy and Marines advanced ever closer to mainland Japan scoring one victory after another, Tokyo Rose issued a series of threats, based on more exaggerated propaganda, warning the American Navy to call off its battlegroups and head back home. According to one article, Rose started off by claiming, “you are suicidal maniacs…”159 Such threats came across as desperation especially considering the mounting losses Japan faced in the Pacific. Marines and sailors found humor in her diatribe and bombed a Japanese airfield, destroying it the very next day.160

By 1944, the U.S. media consistently produced articles along the “favorite enemy” theme in regard to Tokyo Rose. At least for a while, the media seemed to abandon the femme fatale portrayal of Rose in favor of a more lighthearted portrayal. Consequently, Americans wanted to know more about the person behind the name. Many articles in 1944 began speculating about Tokyo Rose’s origin. Some articles, in trying to decipher the origin of her American dialect, surmised she may have been Hawaiian, perhaps even a graduate of the University of Hawaii.161 Interestingly, several articles referred to Tokyo Rose as being “Hawaiian-born” and educated. Her command of the English language certainly suggested American upbringing. A post-war article speculated she might have been born on the Hawaiian island of Hilo. The same article, ironically, suggested she might be from Wisconsin and the widow of an unidentified Englishman.162 Others suggested she had a somewhat vague Boston accent,163 and that “sob sister Tokyo Rose” might have been “an American espionage agent who passed out valuable information during her blatant broadcasts to Pacific-based GI’s.”164

Toward War’s End

As the Army Air Forces ramped up B-29 incursions into Tokyo, more island-based air strips capable of supporting heavy bombers were created or existing ones upgraded. Engineers turned small airfields such as Aslito airfield on Saipan into ones capable of sustaining the takeoff and landing requirements of the large Super Fortresses. The press gleefully reported The Zero Hour’s reasoning why these newly constructed air bases had not been destroyed by the Imperial Air Force of Japan. According to Yank Magazine, the Japanese reported they were waiting for allincoming B-29s to arrive at their island bases before “wiping them out.”178 The press would eventually report that over 800 B-29s would drop upwards to 6,000 tons of ordinance over Japan within the first nine months since the first Super Fortresses began flying sorties over the beleaguered nation.179

On a lighter note, The Army Air Corp utilized a B-29 for another type of bombing mission over Japan. It delivered new records to Radio Tokyo. After hearing Tokyo Rose complain on The Zero Hour that her phonographs were wearing out, a B-29 received a shipment of brand new records, the latest hits from the States, attached them to small parachutes, and released them directly over Radio Tokyo. Interestingly, servicemen reported hearing the new records playing on The Zero Hour the very next day.180

By the final year of the Pacific War, the U.S. military began making equipment and broadcasting facilities available to counter Radio Tokyo. Services like the Pacific Ocean Network began broadcasting alternative material for GI consumption. The press, having gleefully reported on the Tokyo Rose phenomenon for years, now predicted her downfall thanks to American alternatives being available.181

Despite the on-air competition and increasingly negative press, the final months of the Pacific War saw the U.S. Navy issuing Tokyo Rose a citation for entertaining U.S. warfighters over the years. The citation recognized her for meritorious service that ultimately contributed to the morale of U.S. warfighters serving in the Pacific Campaign. The press quoted the citation’s text:

While the United States armed forces in the Pacific have been extremely busy capturing enemy-held islands, sinking Jap ships, and killing Japs and more Japs, Tokyo Rose, ever solicitous of their morale, has persistently entertained them during those long nights in fox-holes and on board ship, by bringing them excellent state-side music, laughter and news about home. These broadcasts have reminded all our men of the things they are fighting for, which are the things America has given them. And they have inspired them to a greater determination than ever to get the war over quickly, which explains why they are now driving onward to Tokyo itself, so that soon they will be able to thank Tokyo Rose in person.182

The Navy’s Tokyo Rose citation, while certainly satire, represented a unique example of the U.S. military recognizing in a positive way the work of an enemy propagandist. It stood in contrast, however, to the increasingly negative press coverage she received. It also hinted that perhaps the U.S. military had not been as concerned about Tokyo Rose’s ability to demoralize U.S. troops as much as the American press seemed to.

Postwar Years

Years of fighting a losing war coupled with the detonation of two atomic bombs over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 respectively, Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945. The official signing of the surrender occurred on September 2 aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in the presence of General Douglas MacArthur, now the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers and in charge of Japan’s postwar occupation forces. As the nation, and thus the world, recoiled from the ravages and strain of war, the American press maintained its interest in Tokyo Rose. The press turned its attention to discovering who Tokyo Rose was, and where she came from as American occupation forces were poised to enter mainland Japan.

Interestingly, Tokyo Rose continued to broadcast from Radio Tokyo. However, The Zero Hour, which had given GIs more laughter than “a dozen Donald Ducks,” ceased the day Japan surrendered. In its place, and still featuring all the familiar female voices, came The Pacific Hour.183 The new program maintained much of The Zero Hour’s format, but the first episode spun Japan’s defeat by not acknowledging any surrender rather touting its reconstruction period. Another article referred to The Pacific Hour as keeping “the siren’s line of chatter” the same.184 By this point, American servicemen largely recognized Iva’s voice broadcasting as Orphan Ann as the most known voice on The Zero Hour, more so even than the other dozen or so female broadcasters that made up the Tokyo Rose myth. Although it is not made clear exactly why this is, one can speculate that her playful, innocuous propaganda messages helped with her popularity. It could also be that she named herself Orphan Ann.185

Press reporting on Tokyo Rose varied greatly in the immediate aftermath of Japan’s surrender and the prelude to Allied occupation. Some articles began negatively criticizing her as a traitor, a theme that grew more prominent as the months followed. Others nostalgically reflected on her entertaining broadcasts and how she remained popular with servicemen. In the United States, curiosity over the identity of the Tokyo siren reached its highest levels. Several articles featured an Army chaplain who wanted to locate Rose, place her in a cage, and tour the nation as a fund raiser for charity.186 Another article indicated that the chaplain may have changed his mind about caging Tokyo Rose as she:

gave us a boost out there in Hawaii, and she does the same thing up in the North Pacific and the Aleutians. The Navy boys would like to thank her, and I’m sure the people in the States would like to see her.187

Another article suggested that American servicemen entering Tokyo yearned to meet the “flower of propaganda” and that:

But there’s not a seaman second class in all the American fleets in the Pacific—nor a doughfoot nor leatherneck on any of the farflung fronts—who has forgotten the taunting voice of Tokyo rose. We cannot describe her for you. Not any American has ever seen her. But we can guess, with the rest of the Allied world, what the mystery woman of the orient looks like.188

The article then proceeded to give a very basic description of a petite, Oriental woman of Japanese descent.

Up until this point, Tokyo Rose existed only as a siren’s voice over the radio, tantalizing U.S. troops with her alluring voice and playful nature. As American troops began entering mainland Japan, Americans and thus the print media wanted to discover the identity of the legendary Tokyo Rose, the siren of the Pacific. Years of envisioning Tokyo Rose brought about great anticipation to finally put a face to the charming and alluring voice. Press reports began speculating about the details of The Zero Hour and the women who announced for it. Some proposed that she consisted of four American-educated Japanese women between twenty and thirty. One reporter, Merrill Mueller of NBC, claimed to catch a glimpse of Tokyo Rose as he toured the Radio Tokyo building. He described her only as “a modest, nondescript little woman.”189 Reporter Richard Johnston spent an afternoon with a Radio Tokyo host to explore possibilities of Tokyo Rose’s identity. Without even knowing he had identified her, Johnston listed Iva Toguri, along with his host identified only as Miss Sato, and someone by the name of  Ruth Hayakawa as leading candidates.190 Other articles quickly followed proposing that Toguri, one of five possible announcers, may indeed be Tokyo Rose.

As August 1945 gave way to September, American journalists anxiously searched to answer the Tokyo Rose identity question. One article stated that journalists had been “invading” the Domei news service in Tokyo practically demanding leads and answers.191 Yank magazine ran a story describing the mad rush of journalists hounding Radio Tokyo’s staff and further  commented that “particularly every story was a rat-race of newspaper correspondents, photographers, magazine writers and assorted trained seals seeking ‘exclusives.’”192 As more information came to light about Iva Toguri, many quotes became attributed to her that she most likely never said. Examples included “Americans were just dopes to be fighting the Japs,” which per the American press, “she would say with a salacious intonation, their gals and wives were having a grand time back home being unfaithful.”193

By 1945, Americans and the Allied powers wanted justice against the Axis perpetrators of World War II. As Nazi heads were being tried at Nuremburg, and with the fall of Imperial Japan, Americans wanted the same type of justice brought to the Pacific Theater. Allied powers signed the Potsdam Declaration on July 26, 1945, promising the world stern justice to all war criminals in Japan.194 This also came on the heels of anti-Japanese sentiment in the U.S., a nation exhausted from over four years of global war, one started by Japan in 1941.

Tokyo Rose could not be viewed as a war criminal, as no evidence suggested she ever harmed American prisoners of war or committed atrocities. But Americans wanted justice for years of war foisted upon them. Not only did Tokyo represent a dangerous woman who tried to diminish troop morale, the press viewed her as a possible American traitor who allied herself with a barbaric empire out to destroy Western values.

When Eighth Army military police arrived at the Bund Hotel in Yokohama on September 5, 1945, to arrest Iva Toguri, she had just completed a press conference for Allied journalists. She completed her final broadcast for Radio Tokyo as Orphan Ann just prior to the press conference. The arrest became a pivotal point in how the media portrayed her. Although the press coverage of Tokyo Rose had become increasingly negative since Japan’s surrender, media fascination with the propagandist ceased, only to be replaced with a national desire to identify and arrest the American traitor. Iva Toguri’s Tokyo Rose went from a source of good-humored entertainment for servicemen to an American traitor who deserved a treason trial and likely prosecution. The press quoted her as saying she broadcast for experience, that she doubted keeping her American citizenship was a wise choice, and that she sat on the fence politically, not committing to either the Japanese or American cause.195 It is doubtful Toguri actually made many of these claims, and the press occasionally seemed to be writing at times more on hearsay than actual fact.196 Journalists hammered Toguri on a number of broadcasted quotes, including one where Tokyo Rose suggested that U.S. Marines were “forgotten men” of the Pacific. Toguri adamantly denied she ever made such a statement and indicated she did not stay at Radio Tokyo when other women announced on The Zero Hour.197 However, the press reports now overwhelmingly continued to portray her as a traitor.

The increasingly negative press toward Tokyo Rose (and even Axis Sally) also underscored the building animosity regarding national traitors inherent in so much press coverage of the period. What had once been often fascination and humorous applause for Tokyo Rose during the war quickly turned to anger and condescension in the American press. It is not apparent exactly why this transformation took place so quickly. Perhaps it had to do with the sobering reality of a war just ended and the blood of young Americans shed across the North and South Pacific in vanquishing Hirohito’s Imperial Japan. The American public saw daily images of the war in cinemas and newspapers, and the colossal effort of securing Japan and rebuilding it confronted Allied nations. In short, the American public had grown weary of war and had no tolerance for American-born Japanese traitors. Mounting pressure existed within the U.S. Government to prosecute American traitors, especially those connected with attempting to demoralize U.S. troops. This combined with the fact that Tokyo Rose transcended societal norms to place herself in a position of power over men in the battlefield greatly added to the mounting negativity toward her.

In perhaps one of the most scathing articles of Iva Toguri, one column focused on her looming treason charges and speculated that she, like other American-born Japanese, shared a common disloyalty for the nation they called home. According to the article:

Tokyo Rose assumes her place alongside of the Nip aviators shot down by our forces and who were discovered to have been American-born and educated. And she joins also that galaxy of so-called “loyal” Japs in the Tule Lake concentration camp—6,000 of them—who foreswore allegiance to this country and asked to be repatriated to Japan. Perhaps, finally the Blubbering Brotherhood and Sobbing Sisterhood (those designations are borrowed) will admit their sympathies for these near-chimpanzees have been misplaced and that a Jap is a Jap whether in Tokyo or Los Angeles.201

In mid-September, the first official calls for a treason trial circulated through the press after comments made by United States Attorney Charles H. Carr suggesting that a civil trial be held for Iva Toguri even though the U.S. Army had not charged her with any crime.203 According to Carr:

the infamous woman—born here and educated here—used myriad artifices and devices to spread discontent and dissension among American troops. This should be a court action rather than Army court-martial proceedings.204

Carr’s scathing article reinforced the femme fatale theme without even directly stating it by singling her out as an “infamous woman” who used her “artifices and devices” to persuade and demoralize U.S. troops. The femme fatale and siren themes resurfaced in many of the press reports of the post-war period.

Considerable attention surrounding Tokyo Rose’s possible treason trial spread throughout the American print press. Questions raised included how many women comprised the mythical figure of Tokyo Rose and whether any of them currently had U.S. citizenship.205 Tokyo Rose mania in popular culture included the 1946 film, Tokyo Rose, staring popular Asian actress Lotus Young. Promotional material for the film included such lines as “how one Yank braved the heart of Jap headquarters to silence the most seductive traitress of all time—whose voice was a bullet aimed at the heart of every G.I.” and “See what G.I.’s did to that notorious siren of the air waves!”206 The film, which included scenes where the Radio Tokyo siren routinely identified herself as Tokyo Rose, could best be described as fiction. The film portrayed Rose as a femme fatale by every measure, a dragon lady, complete with scenes of stressed airmen listening to her announce their aircraft’s registration number as they headed to a target, reminding them that the Japanese knew of their coming and stood prepared. Young’s portrayal of Tokyo Rose exemplified the classic Hollywood femme fatale characterization as she is portrayed with cat-like moves, a smooth, silky voice, and mysterious motivations. Other similar cinematic images of Tokyo Rose included numerous war bond sales film shorts such as The voice of Truth from 1945, which featured ship-board sailors listening to the purring voice of Tokyo Rose warning them of certain doom should they continue their mission. These femme fatale imaginings of Tokyo Rose (as well as Axis Sally) helped foster an intense desire in the U.S. to prosecute Iva Toguri for treason. The print media enhanced this desire through countless negative portrayals of her as a bad girl, a femme fatale radio siren who used her feminine charms to undermine America’s mission to defeat Japan, and an American traitor.

The Trial and Aftermath

The trial of Iva Toguri, legally known as D’Aquino v. United States, has been well documented in other sources, including books and dissertations. To avoid redundancy, this section will only briefly summarize the important aspects of the trial and how the media covered it. As for Toguri’s legal troubles, they began the moment she submitted to an interview with two journalists, Clark Lee of the International News Service (INS) and Harry Brundidge of Cosmopolitan magazine. The journalists offered Iva Toguri two thousand dollars to secure the interview and attain a signed confession stating she was the one and only Tokyo Rose. Toguri also signed a contract agreeing not to talk to any other reporters until the story ran, as Cosmopolitan and the INS were to have exclusive first printing rights. Unfortunately, reporters from Yank magazine soon found Toguri and convinced her to tell her story to them as well, which nullified her agreement with Cosmopolitan.207 Iva Toguri never received the promised money, and she would forever be Tokyo Rose because of Lee and Brundidge.208 The confession would later be used against her in the trial. Iva Toguri also agreed to be in a short Navy-produced film in which a reproduced broadcasting booth was constructed, and she reenacted a Radio Tokyo broadcast for the cameras. In a way, Toguri sealed her own fate, not realizing the repercussions.

Toguri spent over a year incarcerated in Japan including six months in Tokyo’s Sugamo prison even though the U.S. had yet to charge her with any crimes.209 Eventually, the U.S. extradited her to stand trial. The federal government indicted her on eight counts of treason, and the trial began in San Francisco on July 5, 1949. Of the eight counts, four concerned her broadcasts with Radio Tokyo, and the other four involved allegations that despite her consistent denials, she helped prepare propaganda copy for The Zero Hour.210

The American press, predictably, followed every new development of the trial. The press mostly reported the trial objectively, but occasionally Toguri would receive descriptions such as “the chunky, black-haired Iva Toguri” or comparisons to how skinny she had become over the past year.211 Editorials and opinion pieces, however, mostly criticized her for broadcasting against U.S. forces, while a few wrote from a more sympathetic position. Oftentimes, negative press coverage involved the veracity of Toguri’s statements regarding her innocence. One reporter, in a rather scathing article, cited her as:

the greatest free-style liar (or liaress) that you or I or anyone else will ever know. When it came to hand-off-the-truth policy, she earned the honor of sitting in the Liar’s Hall of Fame directly on Baron Munchausen’s right, if not on his lap.212

More amiable press reports reiterated the fact that Iva Toguri and her colleagues secretly aided U.S. forces through innocuous and entertaining propaganda almost as if they were “counterespionage” agents secretly working for the United States.213 These articles, as did the defense, argued Iva Toguri had nothing to do with the script preparation and only read copy prepared by others and introduced musical numbers. Most editorials, however, wrote from a more negative position as indicated above. To a clear majority of the American media, Iva Toguri was an American turncoat who broadcast against her country for the enemy.

As the prosecution developed its case against Toguri, they began collecting witnesses, which included acquaintances of the Toguri family, U.S. servicemen, and officials of Radio Tokyo, anyone who could identify Iva Toguri or her voice as a broadcaster for The Zero Hour. The defense sought Toguri’s colleagues at Radio Tokyo, the former prisoners of war Cousens, Ince, and Reyes.

At the start of the trial, the prosecution claimed Iva Toguri willfully and without coercion attempted to demoralize U.S. servicemen through inducing homesickness, bitterness at their condition, and confusion as to battlefield successes and outcome of the war. The defense on the other hand, contended that Toguri broadcast only through necessity, fear of Japanese reprisal for noncompliance, and to aid the Allied cause through sabotaging what should have been a legitimate propaganda program. Many press reports speculated that the prosecution would have to fight public sympathy for Toguri, and the fact that veterans would recall her “voice as that of an old friend—an enemy, to be sure, in the formal sense, but an agreeable and amusing creature who brought some spice into long tropical nights of deadly monotony.”214 The same article, incidentally, expressed that if the prosecution should find Toguri guilty of treason, she “deserves the worst, not because of any damage she did, but because her motives were reprehensible.”215

Even though Iva Toguri’s broadcast spread mostly cheer and entertainment to U.S. servicemen in the South and North Pacific, the treason trial against Iva Toguri captivated the nation. Many press articles carried erroneous information about her life, her work with Radio Tokyo, and the mythical femme fatale, Tokyo Rose. For example, one illustrated story portrayed Toguri as a disenfranchised, average college student who had very few friends, never seemed to fit in social gatherings, and became jaded by racial prejudice, so much so that she reacted by broadcasting enemy propaganda to American troops.216 Press reports such as these oftenattributed quotes to Iva Toguri that she most likely never said.

As the trial proceeded, the defense went as far as to question Toguri’s American citizenship, which they said may have been forfeited when she married Felipe d’Aquino, a naturally born Portuguese citizen currently living in Japan.217 If indeed her citizenship had been lost, she could not be prosecuted for treason. The prosecution successfully proved that Toguri remained a U.S. citizen, as she had unsuccessfully tried to get a new passport issued several times when she lived in Japan. At that time, her citizenship remained intact.218

Chief prosecutor Thomas DeWolfe made a case that Toguri relished her job at Radio Tokyo, thought her position was glamorous, and hoped it would network her for possibly higher positions in broadcasting.219 DeWolfe produced witnesses including prison guards who testified that Toguri had signed autographs for them with Tokyo Rose written after her legal name.220 The prosecution also stated that Toguri lied when she claimed the Japanese forced her to broadcast as Orphan Ann.

As for the defense, head Defense Attorney Wayne Collins arranged for several key witnesses to take the stand on Toguri’s behalf. These included Major Cousens, Captain Ince, and Lieutenant Reyes. The three men testified they asked Toguri to broadcast because of her unique voice and innocent presence. They claimed their goals included entertaining U.S. troops, thwarting the Japanese desire to disseminate potent propaganda messages, and pass along secret information such as weather conditions whenever possible. As Iva Toguri stated at the trial, “my purpose was to give the program a double meaning and thus reduce its effectiveness as a propaganda medium.”221 They also testified that she had provided aid and comfort to prisoners of war forced to work for Radio Tokyo. The defense even claimed that Iva Toguri, as Orphan Ann, would occasionally praise U.S. victories on air, somehow without the Japanese knowing it. They cited one such example when Orphan Ann played a snippet of “Stars and Stripes Forever” upon hearing the news that U.S. Marines had captured Saipan.222

Perhaps most importantly to the defense, Cousens testified under oath that he never heard Toguri say, nor did he write into any of his copy, some of the harsh things the prosecution claimed Toguri said on the air. Comments made by Tokyo Rose, and thus pinned on Iva Toguri, included the fact that GI wives were at home cheating on them and that many more Marines would die before the end of the war. Cousens maintained, and thus the press reported, she simply opened and closed the program and introduced musical numbers with a bit of friendly chatter interspersed throughout.223 The defense also claimed repeatedly that other female broadcasters announced on The Zero Hour including June Syuama, Ruth Hayakawa, Mieko Oki, and Mary Ishii.224 Complicating matters for the prosecution, veterans claimed they could not always distinguish the different female voices over short-wave radio. Reception quality varied  depending upon location.225 In addition, the name of Tokyo Rose predated Iva Toguri’s entrance on The Zero Hour by at least a year.

Press reports regarding the trial continued daily. Journalists reported anything pertaining to Tokyo Rose as the American public maintained strong interest. Sometimes stories reported from the trial bordered on the absurd. For example, several articles in early September of 1949 claimed five American Congressmen visited a Japanese prison where Iva Toguri remained incarcerated and committed an act of voyeurism by secretly watching her bath.226 At times the trial seemed to play out like a fictionalized drama. Iva Toguri also had the backing of many Americans who, through the war years, read stories about how she entertained U.S. troops in the Pacific.

When the prosecution wrapped-up its case in late September, it argued that Iva Toguri, often referred by her married name, Iva d’Aquino, was an “arch traitoress” and a “female Benedict Arnold” who deserved prosecution to the maximum allowed by law.227 Press reports routinely mentioned that she either appeared very nervous during jury deliberations or showed no emotion whatsoever. The jury deliberated for four days before finally handing down a verdict. They found Iva Toguri guilty of only one out of eight federal charges of treason. The guilty charge involved a single line of propaganda Tokyo Rose broadcast on The Zero Hour in October of 1944. The broadcast occurred after the U.S. Navy lost several vessels in Leyte Gulf. According to the prosecution, Tokyo Rose stated, “Now you fellows have lost all your ships. You are really orphans of the Pacific. How do you think you are going to get home.”228 Iva Toguri vehemently denied ever saying this. Ultimately, she received a 10-year sentence coupled with a $10,000 fine for treasonous broadcasts against the United States.

Public and media opinion largely convicted Iva Toguri. Americans wanted a conviction, and the U.S. Government demanded it. Although select editorials and articles were sympathetic to Toguri’s plight, most remained steadfast in condemning her and her alleged efforts to betray the U.S. and demoralize American troops. As for the press at large, an American traitor had been served justice. Her gender, however, set her apart from others throughout history. With Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally, female traitors now had to be dealt with legally.

Press reports canvased American newspapers with commentary both in favor of, and against the verdict. For example, one editorial stated that “jurors saw not the harmless little radio program Tokyo Rose said she had, but concrete evidence that she was seriously engaged in trying to undermine the American war effort.” The editorial also reminded readers of the harsh nature of the Japanese people and the atrocities of war committed in the emperor’s name. It concluded that “In face of all the humiliation and suffering, could any American be excused for giving comfort to the enemy? Apparently, the jury had the correct answer when it decided ‘no.’”229 Other editorials compared the Tokyo Rose case with that of Mildred Gillars, whose onair personae, Axis Sally, and her resulting conviction shared many parallels. One even commented that Toguri’s conviction exceeded her crime in that,

Thus, while it is appropriate that Tokyo Rose should be punished in some manner, hers seems a case that might well be included by-and-by in some general act of amnesty or oblivion. But that, of course, is also true of the persons sentenced to prison as conscientious objectors, many whom are still there.230

Perhaps one of the most critical articles of the Tokyo Rose verdict came originally from Frontier Magazine by author William A. Reuben. Reuben questioned the integrity of the verdict  by pointing out that an enormous disparity existed “between the legendary qualities attributed to ‘Tokyo Rose’ and the evidence that was produced inside the courtroom against Mrs. D’Aquino.” For example, Tokyo Rose never existed, as she was an amalgamation of many women, including Iva Toguri. Secondly, the trial highlighted a preponderance of evidence suggesting Toguri did not in any way attempt to negatively affect GI morale—nor did she inadvertently succeed in doing so. Even though the Ninth Circuit Court upheld her conviction after requests were made to appeal,231 Reuben stated that the Court itself declared that recordings made of Iva Toguri’s broadcasts “showed no propaganda whatever; instead they consist of the introduction to music done in the manner of a night club master of ceremonies.”232 Reuben concluded by adding that Iva Toguri’s conviction relied entirely on one single line that had been uttered in 1944 consisting of only 25 words. She had been cleared by both the FBI and the U.S. Army while still incarcerated in Japan in the late 1940s.233

Toguri’s ten-year prison sentence began on November 19, 1949. Shortly after her prison term began, and continuing for several years during her imprisonment, several articles came out all claiming to give readers inside scoops on Toguri and her trial. One article featured noted actor and entertainer Bryon Palmer who, during the war years, claimed to regularly converse with Tokyo Rose from a short-wave radio station in what the article jokingly described as “a most romantic setting.” According to the article, Palmer would routinely chide Tokyo Rose by saying things like, “This is Station WXLE—your American Expeditionary Station at Eniwetok on the road to Tokyo,” in which she would reply “This is Tokyo Rose on the road to Eniwetok.”234 The only problem with the article, however, is none of the women at Radio Tokyo, especially those on The Zero Hour, ever referred to themselves as Tokyo Rose, and they could not have conversed with listeners over short-wave radio anyway.

Harry Brundidge, who along with Clark Lee secured the first—and ultimately legally incriminatory—interview with Iva Toguri, published an article in 1954 recounting his meeting with her in 1945. The article contained many factual errors such as attributing propaganda lines to Toguri that she never said as well as claiming she happily admitted to being the one and only Tokyo Rose prior to signing her “confession.” In the article, Brundidge made the claim that Toguri:

Sold out the country she really loved for the country (Japan) she really hated, for $6.60 monthly and, by wartime conditions in Japan, a “soft” living. Instead of going to a munitions factory and sticking it out, she with no regard to consequences, elected to become America’s first woman traitor.235

Brundidge also claimed that Charles Cousens “taught Rose the trade, wrote her scripts, and began her sweet music and sour propaganda.”236 Why Brundidge wrote such a negative article about a woman whom he had once been so interested in having an exclusive interview with is not clear. It is possible Brundidge retained some lingering disappointment with Toguri stemming from her Yank interview, which invalidated the signed contract with him and Clarke Lee for exclusive rights to her first American interview as Tokyo Rose.

Iva Toguri ultimately spent six and a half years in prison; she was released on good behavior on January 28, 1956. Visibly frightened and uncertain of her future, Toguri’s words to the press as she left prison included “I am going out into the darkness.”237 The now 39-year old Toguri wished to go back into private life and put the legend of Tokyo Rose behind her, but she had yet another hurdle ahead. No sooner than her prison term ended, the government deliberated over whether to expel her from the United States.238 Many press reports stated that she showed no remorse or repentance for her treasonous broadcasts.239 Toguri’s father, ironically, referred to her as Rose when he led her away from the prison.

As Iva Toguri faced possible deportation, many editorials weighed-in with opinion both pro and con. As one editorial put it, deporting Toguri would mean “the first attempt in American history to denaturalize and deport a native-born citizen.”240 The paper urged caution in any decision to expel her from the country. Other editorials warned that to deport a native-born American citizen who has already expiated a crime by imprisonment would set a dangerous precedent.241 One editorial criticized the harshness of Toguri’s treatment by the federal government by adding the damages she caused GI morale “probably could be contained in a thimble.”242 A more fitting punishment for Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally, the article concluded,  would be to make them perpetually listen to their own broadcasts for years to come.

American servicemen wrote on Toguri’s behalf as well. For example, one article from a Naval Seabee in World War II claimed that Tokyo Rose gave his comrades many evenings of enjoyment and laughter and that no one ever defected due to her broadcasts. The sailor stated,

She brought back many memories of home when they were needed most. I for one say she has been punished enough and I believe she did more good than she did harm. In fact, it was mighty good entertainment at a time when there was very little to laugh at.243

Many articles and editorials, however, were severely harsh in tone regarding the deportation of Iva Toguri. For example, one particularly scathing editorial bluntly stated:

Tokyo Rose is a convicted traitor who did her utmost in World War II to bring about the defeat of our armed forces. She deserved summary hanging. American justice (too soft as usual) gave her 10 years, reduced it to six for good behavior.244

The editorial went on to harshly add that “if American justice fails to deport the plague, it will fail to keep the faith of our dead sons.” Another proclaimed that whether Iva Toguri did any harm, the U.S. should not set a precedent of dealing lightly with treasonous citizenry.245 Clearly, national sentiment regarding Iva Toguri wavered from severely harsh to moderately supportive. A guilty verdict of treason, subsequent prison sentence, and ongoing legal woes for the once popular radio siren had taken its toll on Iva Toguri. However, the media narrative did not stop here.