28 September 2006
Iva Toguri - Orphan Ann, not Tokyo Rose
Many sources are carrying news of the death of Iva Toguri who after WWII was tried and convicted for broadcasting as “Tokyo Rose”. Although there is no doubt that Toguri made broadcasts on Japanese radio there never was a Tokyo Rose as such: It simply was a generic name given to describe around a dozen female presenters on Japanese Radio. Her broadcasts were never political and contained none of the venom spewed by Mildred Gillars (aka Axis Sally) a counterpart on German Radio.
This obituary comes from the Chicago Tribune.
Few who stopped in at J. Toguri Mercantile Co. on Belmont Avenue knew the story of the unassuming woman who moved quietly among the cluttered piles of Asian books and toiletries. Iva Toguri certainly didn't look like a war criminal, although the U.S. government convicted her as one following World War II. In the late 1940s, she was branded as being one of the voices of "Tokyo Rose," Japan's infamous radio siren to embattled U.S. troops, and served 6 years in a West Virginia prison.
Toguri lived with that stigma until 1977, when she received a presidential pardon following a flurry of media attention, including a series in the Chicago Tribune in which two of her chief accusers said their testimony had been coerced. A Chicago resident since 1956, Toguri, 90, died Tuesday, Sept. 26,
Toguri seldom spoke of her past and remained intensely private throughout her 50 years in Chicago. Customers at the store who knew who she was quickly learned that questions would go unanswered. "She didn't talk much about it," said Ross Harano, former president of the Chicago Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. "She was not a bitter person at all, she just put it aside."
Toguri was born on July 4, 1916, and grew up in California, where she received a degree in zoology from UCLA with designs on becoming a doctor. Those plans were waylaid by her ill-fated trip to Japan. Toguri was visiting a sick aunt in Japan when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He has since died. Stuck in the country, she was tossed out by her family because of her U.S. citizenship and harassed by the Japanese government. In 1943, she took a secretarial job at Radio Tokyo. The Japanese wanted a woman with an American accent for a radio show called "Zero Hour," and Toguri was enlisted
Toguri was one of about a dozen female broadcasters dubbed "Tokyo Rose" by American GIs. Toguri actually broadcast under the moniker "Orphan Ann" (Ann for announcer). While the Japanese were trying to use the broadcasts as propaganda, an Australian prisoner of war who wrote the shows Toguri did said the programs were intended as "straight-out entertainment”. Nonetheless, she was held for a year by U.S. occupying forces after the war, then released. But a public outcry fanned by influential radio broadcaster Walter Winchell led the U.S. to re-arrest her, said Wayne Collins, whose father defended Toguri at her 1949 trial in San Francisco.
Toguri was convicted of treason following a 12-week trial. The single count of which she was found guilty—seven others were thrown out—accused her of referring to U.S. sailors as "Orphans of the Pacific" and asking, "How will you get home now that your ships are sunk?"
Her innocence finally was proven in the 1970s through efforts by the media and her attorney. In 1976, two of her primary accusers told the Tribune's Far East correspondent, Ronald Yates, that FBI officials had forced them to give false testimony. His reports followed a February 1976 Tribune series by Linda Witt that brought Toguri's prosecution into question. TV's "60 Minutes" also did a segment on Toguri, said Collins, who had taken over his father's case and filed for a presidential pardon.
In January 1977, on his last day in office, President Gerald Ford pardoned Toguri. At the time, she said that she hoped to "go back to my simple life and work. The difference now is, however, that I have regained my American citizenship, a right and privilege I have always cherished."
Her father moved to Chicago after the war and started his import and retail business, which was initially on Clark Street. Toguri joined him after being released from prison and rarely talked about her ordeal.
In January, the World War II Veterans Committee presented Toguri with the Edward J. Herlihy citizen award, which is named after the World War II newsreels announcer. The committee had earlier printed Toguri's story in its newsletter, drawing an outpouring of support from veterans, said its president, James Roberts. "Not one said they were demoralized in any way by the broadcasts," Roberts said. "She remained loyal to the U.S., when many others may have turned on it, or given up." She accepted her medal during a quiet luncheon ceremony at Yoshi's, having declined an invitation to a larger gala three months earlier in Washington, D.C. "She was tearful and overcome with emotion," Roberts said. "As I understood it, it was part of a long process of vindication."