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[COMMUNITY] Tokyo Rose Lee - Iva Toguri

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  • madchinaman
    Convicted as Tokyo Rose, She Later Received Honors By Valerie J. Nelson, Times Staff Writer September 28, 2006 Trapped while visiting Japan at the start of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2006
      Convicted as 'Tokyo Rose,' She Later Received Honors
      By Valerie J. Nelson, Times Staff Writer
      September 28, 2006


      Trapped while visiting Japan at the start of World War II, U.S.
      citizen Iva Toguri became known to millions by a radio handle she
      never used: Tokyo Rose, the "siren of the Pacific" whose broadcasts
      were meant to demoralize American servicemen fighting in the Pacific
      theater.

      But there was one problem: A single Tokyo Rose didn't exist. U.S.
      servicemen branded any English-speaking female radio broadcaster of
      Japanese propaganda with the name, and there were at least a dozen.

      Forces under Gen. Douglas MacArthur's command and the U.S. Justice
      Department independently concluded that Toguri had committed no
      crime. Yet the 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.

      Two decades later, journalists revisited her story and helped clear
      her name, painting her as a victim of racism and wartime hysteria.

      "They wound up prosecuting the myth instead of the person," said
      Bill Kurtis, the broadcast journalist whose 1969 documentary for
      CBS, "The Story of Tokyo Rose," first told Toguri's side of the
      story.

      Toguri, who received a presidential pardon in 1977, died Tuesday of
      complications of old age at Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital in
      Chicago, said Barbara Trembley, a family spokeswoman. She was 90.

      She had lived to see herself hailed as a hero by former servicemen
      who wanted to right "a grotesque miscarriage of justice," said James
      Roberts, president of the World War II Veterans Committee.

      At a private ceremony in January in Chicago, Toguri wept when she
      received the veterans' Edward J. Herlihy Citizenship Award — named
      for the radio broadcaster known for narrating World War II newsreels.

      She called it "the most memorable day of my life."

      Those who tell her story like to point out that she was born on the
      Fourth of July, 1916. Raised by Japanese immigrants in a
      predominantly white neighborhood in Compton, she spoke almost no
      Japanese. She attended a Methodist church, was a Girl Scout, loved
      big bands and hated sushi.

      A month after graduating from UCLA 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 next year on her way
      to a Japanese American internment camp. Near the end of Toguri's
      planned six-month stay, Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor on
      Dec. 7, 1941.

      Stranded, and classified as an enemy alien, Toguri was constantly
      harassed by the Japanese government. Taunted by neighbors for
      harboring an enemy, her relatives asked her to leave.

      She asked Japanese authorities to imprison her with other American
      nationals, but she was eventually forced to work on the English-
      language "Zero Hour," a Radio Tokyo show staffed by Allied prisoners
      that aired from 1943 to 1945.

      "It was not propaganda, so to speak. It was produced by POWs for
      POWs and their parents," Kurtis said. "Her voice sounded like an
      American teenager, and that's what they wanted."

      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.

      Three POWs with previous broadcast experience were her co-workers,
      and they promised to try to avoid spreading propaganda by delivering
      the broadcasts in such a farcical way that they wouldn't be
      believed. As they became friends, she risked her welfare for them,
      purchasing food and medicine.

      As the war went on, she married a Portuguese national, Felipe
      d'Aquino, who worked at another radio station.

      After Japan's surrender in August 1945, the American press descended
      on Tokyo, intending to find Tokyo Rose. Two American journalists
      offered $250 to anyone who could identify the radio broadcaster, and
      a former employee of Radio Tokyo pointed to Toguri.

      American military police arrested her, but an investigation found no
      grounds for the charges of treason and aiding the enemy. After a
      year, Toguri was released and she petitioned to return to the United
      States.

      Back home, a myth of war had gone Hollywood.

      The 1946 movie "Tokyo Rose" presented the title character as a
      sultry, malevolent traitor who taunted American soldiers.
      Commentator Walter Winchell crusaded to have Toguri rearrested,
      unleashing a series of radio broadcasts attacking the attorney
      general for "laxness" in dealing with the case.

      Pressure steadily built on the administration of President Truman
      to "make an example of somebody" in 1948.

      As Toguri said in 1976 of her role as a postwar scapegoat, "It was
      eenie, meenie, minie … and I was moe."

      Secretly arrested in Japan, she was sent to San Francisco and tried
      on eight counts. The 13-week trial cost $750,000, which was then
      reported to be the most expensive trial in U.S. history.

      After she was convicted on one count of treason, jury foreman John
      Mann said he would regret the verdict for the rest of his life.

      Her offense boiled down to two sentences that she allegedly uttered
      on the radio: "Orphans of the Pacific, you are really orphans now.
      How will you get home now that your ships are sunk?"

      Her attorneys argued that the statement was not intended seriously
      and could not possibly have been taken that way, since the Allies
      had just won a major sea victory. Journalists have questioned
      whether she ever uttered the words.

      Sentenced to 10 years, Toguri 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, was forced
      to sign a statement that he would never try to reenter the U.S. He
      divorced her in 1980.

      After moving to Chicago, where relatives had resettled, she worked
      in the imported Japanese goods store her father had opened after the
      war.

      She maintained a Greta Garbo-like silence about her past until she
      was contacted by Kurtis, then a young reporter at a local CBS
      affiliate. Her first post-prison interview became "The Story of
      Tokyo Rose."

      "When you separate out fact from myth, why, their case falls apart,"
      Kurtis said. "In this great admiration we have for the greatest
      generation, Iva Toguri should be included in those patriots loyal to
      America."

      Asked about patriotism in the face of such adversity, Toguri often
      quoted her father's admonition: "A tiger doesn't change his stripes."

      Another journalist, Ron Yates, became intrigued by the story while
      serving as Tokyo bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune. During a golf
      game, he asked a friend who had worked for Radio Tokyo about Tokyo
      Rose.

      "He said, 'She was convicted on really bad testimony.' I said, 'What
      do you mean?' " Yates told The Times on Wednesday.

      His friend handed him the phone numbers for the two witnesses whose
      testimony had led to Toguri's conviction.

      "They said, 'I think it's time for us to come clean,' " Yates
      said. "They said they were coached for two months every day before
      the trial began. That kind of blew me away."

      The two former Radio Tokyo employees admitted they had perjured
      themselves under heavy pressure. Yates wrote a series of articles in
      1976 that made a powerful case for Toguri's innocence.

      A "60 Minutes" broadcast on the case, reported by Morley Safer, was
      shown in early 1977.

      In one of his last official acts in office, President Ford pardoned
      Toguri and restored her citizenship.

      Several years ago, Toguri invited Yates to dinner.

      "She sat across from me and said, 'I always wanted to meet you and
      thank you. If it wasn't for you I'd still be a criminal,' " Yates
      recalled Toguri saying.

      "It was journalists who got you into trouble," he replied. "And a
      journalist who kind of got you out."
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