[Dixielandjazz] A farewell to Tokyo Rose
bhaesler at bigpond.net.au
Mon Oct 2 16:42:58 PDT 2006
[This is quite long. Delete if not interested.]
The following was posted on the Australian Dance bands list, and may be of
interest to those DJMLers old enough to remember the 'lady'.
She Was the Enemy -- and I'll Miss Her Dearly
by Bill Gallo*
New York Daily News, October 1, 2006
I learned last week that Iva Toguri D'Aquino passed away at age 90,
although I never knew her by that name.
This Japanese-American lady, born in Los Angeles to Japanese
immigrants, was someone Marines in the Pacific Theater were huge
In the early 1940s, Marines and sailors, en route to invade Japanese-
held islands, shared many pleasant hours listening to her radio
Because of these particular broadcasts, this lady we knew only as
Tokyo Rose was charged, at war's end, with treason. She spent six
years in the brig before, much later, she was pardoned by former
President Gerald Ford.
Treason? Hell, she was the only source of entertainment we had
during those war years.
To those of us huddled around a radio aboard ship, this lady was not
only funny but also gave us Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, The Andrews
Sisters and the big bands like Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn
Miller, Charlie Barnet and Woody Herman. Where were we going to hear
tunes if it weren't for good ol' Rosie?
It didn't matter that between spinning platters, she'd say things
like: "You Marines out there out at sea, you can't believe what your
wives and girlfriends are doing back home. If you're lucky enough to
get back at all, you'll find your lady married a 4-F guy. Give it
all up, fellows, you can't win this war."
That kind of talk was meant to get us in a depressed, futile state,
but instead we regarded it as humor. After a few songs, Rose would
come back on and we'd say, "Here come the jokes."
Of course, on occasion she did hit it on the money. Like when there
would be "mail call" and a guy would get a "Dear John" letter.
The letter would start like this: "Dear John, I'm really sorry to
tell you this but I won't be writing you anymore.
"I feel it's only fair to tell you that I'm engaged to Jimmy.
Remember Jimmy? He's the one they didn't take in the service because
of his flat feet. You must know that I never expected this to
happen, I always wanted to be true to you. But, this one night we
went on this boat ride and... well...."
I witnessed a few guys reading "Dear John's" and, come to think of
it, I think I might've gotten one myself.
But Tokyo Rose never had anything to do with this. We laughed at her
because she entertained us no end.
So today I say, "So long, Rose." You gave us some happy moments out
there in the Pacific. I don't remember any Marine being mad at you.
Even those who got "Dear Johns."
Sleep well, Rosie, and give us a little more of Sinatra.
* a cartoonist, usually of sports issues, at the Illustrated Daily
News. Used to also write columns.
However, that was not the whole story.
The following, more extensive, obit appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald
'Traitor' was just a stranded alien
Iva Toguri, 1916-2006
Trapped while visiting Japan at the start of World War II, US citizen Iva
Toguri became known to millions by a radio name she never used: Tokyo Rose,
the "siren of the Pacific" - a vixen whose broadcasts were meant to
demoralise Allied servicemen fighting in the Pacific.
This Radio Tokyo broadcaster's worst trick was telling Australian and
American soldiers, sailors and airmen fighting in the Pacific that not only
were they losing the war, but their sweethearts back home were betraying
them by having affairs with men who had not enlisted.
But although the servicemen believed this broadcaster was just the one
woman, no single Tokyo Rose existed. Australian and American servicemen
branded any English-speaking female radio broadcaster of Japanese propaganda
with the name, but there were at least a dozen.
Yet Toguri, a Los Angeles native, was the only "Tokyo Rose" to be
prosecuted. She was convicted of treason in 1949 and served more than six
years in prison.
Toguri, who has died in Chicago, aged 90, eventually received a presidential
pardon. She lived long enough to see herself hailed as a hero by the former
servicemen, who wanted to overturn "a grotesque miscarriage of justice",
James Roberts, the president of the American World War II Veterans
Born and raised by Japanese immigrants in a mostly white neighbourhood in
Compton, California, she spoke little Japanese. She attended a Methodist
church, was a Girl Scout, loved big bands and hated sushi.
A month after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles,
with a degree in zoology in June 1941, she was sent to Japan to care for her
mother's dying sister. Her mother, who was too ill to travel, died the
following year on her way to a Japanese-American internment camp. Near the
end of Toguri's planned six-month stay, Japanese forces attacked Pearl
Harbour on December 7, 1941.
Stranded and classified as an enemy alien, Toguri was harassed by the
Japanese government. Taunted by neighbours for harbouring an enemy, her
relatives asked her to leave.
She asked Japanese authorities to imprison her with other American
nationals, but she was forced to work on the English-language "Zero Hour", a
Radio Tokyo show manned by Allied prisoners. It aired from 1943 to 1945.
The only radio alias Toguri used was "Orphan Ann", because she often said
during her broadcasts that she was an announcer who had been orphaned in
Tokyo by the war. She performed comedy skits and introduced newscasts,
avoiding propaganda by delivering the broadcasts in a farcical way. She
married a colleague, Portuguese national Felipe d'Aquino.
After Japan's surrender in 1945, the American media descended onTokyo,
intending to find Tokyo Rose, and a former employee of RadioTokyo pointed to
Toguri. American military police arrested her, butan investigation found no
grounds for the charges of treason and aiding the enemy. After a year, she
was released but refusedre-entry to the US.
By 1946 the myth had gone Hollywood. The 1946 movie TokyoRose presented the
title character as a sultry, malevolenttraitor who taunted American
soldiers. The commentator Walter Winchell crusaded to have Toguri
rearrested, and in 1948 the Truman administration decided to "make an
example of somebody".
Secretly arrested in Japan, she was sent to San Francisco and tried on eight
counts. The 13-week trial cost $750,000, the mostexpensive trial in US
history. Toguri was convicted on one count oftreason, for allegedly uttering
on the radio: "Orphans of thePacific, you are really orphans now. How will
you get home now thatyour ships are sunk?" She was sentenced in 1949 to 10
years in prison, and served six years and two months in a West Virginia
federal prison. After her release in 1956, she was fined$10,000.
Her husband, who had come to San Francisco for the trial, signing a
statement that he would never try to re-enter the US, divorced her in 1980.
She moved to Chicago and worked in the imported Japanese goods store her
father had opened after the war.
In 1977 her presidential pardon was issued by Gerald Ford, who also restored
her citizenship, and with good reason, it seems. In the 1940s forces under
General Douglas MacArthur and the US Justice Department had also found
Toguri had committed no crime. "They wound up prosecuting the myth instead
of the person," said Bill Kurtis, the broadcast journalist whose 1969
documentary, The Story of Tokyo Rose, told Toguri's side of the story. "It
was not propaganda, so to speak. It was produced by POWs like her, for other
POWs and their parents," Kurtis said. "Her voice sounded like an American
teenager, and that's what they wanted."
Edwin Reischauer, the US ambassador to Japan from 1961 to 1966, said the
charges were "egged on by a public still much under the influence of
traditional racial prejudices and far from free of the anti-Japanese hatred
of the recent war".
"It is hard to believe," Toguri said on receiving word of Ford'saction. "But
I have always maintained my innocence - this pardon is a measure of
When she was subsequently presented with the World War II US Veterans'
Edward Herlihy Citizenship Award (named for the radio broadcaster known for
narrating newsreels), Toguri wept, saying it was "the most memorable day of
Los Angeles Times
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