4. Tokyo Rose: The stranded Japanese-American Student Made a Scapegoat for Radio Tokyo’s Anti-American Broadcasts.
Very similar to the case of “Axis Sally” was that of “Tokyo Rose” a young Japanese American woman recruited to deliver very similar broadcasts to US troops for Radio Tokyo. However, unlike Sally who was complicit, there is a real chance that Tokyo Rose was innocent. Born in Los Angeles on July 4, 1916, Tokyo Rose’s real name was Iva Toguri. In 1941, Iva had just graduated from UCLA. So her proud parents decided to reward her by paying for her to visit her sick aunt in Japan.
The timing could not have been worse. For twenty-five-year-old Iva found herself stranded after missing the last ship leaving for America after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The secret police visited her and demanded that Iva renounce her US citizenship. Iva refused. However, her decision meant she was classed as an enemy alien and denied a food ration card. Iva eventually found work, first at a newspaper and later at Radio Tokyo, where she typed out scripts for broadcasts to US troops in the South Pacific. However, it wasn’t long before she was broadcasting herself.
Under the alias “Orphan Ann,” Iva was just one of a group of English-speaking women employed to broadcast from Radio Tokyo. Known generically by the troops as “Tokyo Rose” their job was to demoralize American troops with false propaganda. However, it seems that aside from calling the troops, “boneheads,” broadcasts identified as Iva’s did not contain very much propaganda at all. However, after the war, a journalist who interviewed Iva decided to style her as the one and only Tokyo Rose. The American army investigated her for treason but released her for lack of evidence. However, when reporter Walter Winchell got hold of the story, he pressed for to be brought to trial.
The army extradited Iva. Her trial in 1949 was one of the most expensive in US history. It was also designed to make Iva a scapegoat. Transcripts of Iva’s actual broadcasts were withheld from jury and years later, Ron Yates, a reporter on the Chicago Tribune, unearthed evidence that witnesses were forced to lie. On September 29, 1949, a grand jury convicted Iva Toguri on a single count of treason for speaking “into a microphone concerning the loss of ships” She was sentenced to 10 years in prison. She was released after six and forced to live as a stateless individual until President Ford pardoned her in 1977 and reinstated her US citizenship.