Radio Programs beginning with "z"
"As American as a cheeseburger with fries!"
Star: Iva Toguri (and maybe 20 other women)
Sponsor: Japanese Government
Network: NHK (Radio Tokyo)
Type of Show: Depends on one's feelings. Those
who side with Miss Toguri say it was harmless satire. Those
who call her Tokyo Rose say it was subversive propaganda.
NB: There never was anyone connected with this known as "Tokyo
Rose" (except maybe to the American GIs who listened.) The programs
were beamed to military personnel stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
The story of "Tokyo Rose" goes like this: A young American woman of Japanese
ancestry went to Tokyo in the summer of 1941 to visit a sick aunt.
The young woman was Iva Toguri. She had recently graduated from UCLA
with a degree in zoology . On December 2, 1941, Iva went to the US
embassy to get back to California. For some reason, it couldn't be
worked out. The aunt recovered, so she had no reason to harbor a
citizen from an enemy nation (after December 7, war was declared) and Iva
took to the streets. There was an opening for an English language
typist at Radio Tokyo (NHK). This eventually led to going on the
air to speak to American troops. According to a 1969 CBS Radio documentary,
anchored by Bill Kurtis, she worked with American prisoners of war.
Some of the messages said over the air were written by the prisoners.
She was used as a tool of propaganda by the Japanese government.
But was she guilty of treason? Did she do what she did to get back
at the Americans for denying her the right to go back to her family?
Probably not. Iva refused to give up her US citizenship. She
only worked in order to eat and, hopefully, return to Los Angeles. Her
family was sent to the internment camp at Gila River, Arizona. Iva's
mother died during the war in that camp. When the war was over, she
attempted to go home but was taken into custody by US governmental authorities
on treason charges. The trial took place in 1949. Because of
testimonies and sworn statements by Gold Star Mothers (women whose sons
and daughters died while serving in the war) and media celebrities (including
Walter Winchell), Iva didn't stand a chance. One should not forget
that the country still had not learned to accept folks of Japanese ancestry.
She spent eight and a half years behind bars, with time off for good behavior,
though she still had to pay a $10,000 fine. She probably would have
been out sooner but she got in trouble for extracting the rotten tooth
of another inmate. In 1958, she joined her family in Chicago, where
the government relocated them after the war. Iva Toguri, now 85 years
old (she was born on July 4, 1916), still lives in Chicago, a very secluded
life, far from the world's troubles.
Last updated November 23, 2001
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