Iva Toguri D'aquino (1916-2006)

iva toguri d'aquino

Iva Toguri d’Aquino was born on July 4, 1916 to Japanese immigrant parents in Los Angeles, California. She would later become known as the infamous “Tokyo Rose” after World War II, but she had a typical California upbringing. She attended the University of California at Los Angeles and graduated in January of 1940 with a degree in zoology. She did graduate work at UCLA until June of that year but left school to work in her father’s mercantile shop.

On July 5, 1941 Toguri sailed to Japan to care for a sick aunt. By all accounts, her experience in Japan was not easy. She did not speak the language or know the Japanese culture her parents had left. In September, she appeared before the U.S. Vice Consul to apply for a passport to return to America for permanent residence. Because she did not have a passport when she left the U.S., her application was forwarded to the Department of State. Before the process was finalized, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and war was declared. Toguri withdrew her passport application and decided to stay in Japan for the duration of the war.

While living in Japan, Toguri enrolled in Japanese language and culture school. From 1942 to 1943, she worked at the Domei News Agency. In August of 1943 she got a second job as a typist for Radio Tokyo. In November, she began broadcasting on Zero Hour under the name “Orphan Ann.” The radio program was part of Japan’s psychological warfare campaign against U.S. troops with broadcasts intended to lower their morale. This type of female broadcaster in Japan was nicknamed “Tokyo Rose” by troops. It was believed that a Tokyo Rose knew every American troop movement and taunted and beguiled the troops during her radio broadcasts. There was no one specific Tokyo Rose. The moniker applied to about twelve English-speaking women broadcasters on the air. But Toguri became the most famous Tokyo Rose after the war.

On April 19, 1945, Toguri married Felipe d’Aquino, a Portuguese citizen of Japanese-Portuguese descent. After the war ended in 1945, Toguri again applied to return to the United States. The Japanese press had identified her as Tokyo Rose, so the U.S. Army authorities arrested her. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Army Counterintelligence Corps began an extensive investigation of her broadcasts, but concluded that she had not committed crimes against the U.S. and should not be prosecuted. Again, Toguri tried to return to the U.S., outraging veterans groups. The commotion caused the Department of Justice to reopen the investigation, and reporter Harry Brundidge was sent to Japan to search for further evidence. While in Japan, Brundidge convinced someone to give false testimony against Toguri, providing enough evidence for her prosecution. Toguri was indicted on eight counts of treason in September of 1948 and was escorted back to the U.S. for her trial. A year later, the jury found her guilty, making her the seventh person convicted of treason in American history. She was sentenced to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

On January 28, 1956 Toguri was released from the Federal Reformatory for Women in Alderson, West Virginia. She successfully fought deportation efforts and moved to Chicago, where her father owned and ran J. Toguri Mercantile Shop. She gave permission for the documentary The Story of Tokyo Rose to be made in 1969, telling her side of the story. In 1976, journalist Ron Yates discovered that the two men who had testified against her, Kenkichi Oki and George Mitsushio, had committed perjury. President Gerald Ford pardoned her on January 19, 1977. Toguri remained in the United States and never again saw her husband, whom she finally divorced in 1990. Toguri lived the rest of her life in Chicago running J. Toguri Mercantile Shop. In 2005 the World War II Veterans Committee presented her with the Edward J. Herlihy Citizenship Award. Iva Toguri d’Aquino died at her home in Chicago from natural causes on September 26, 2006.

 

Additional Sources:


Books:

  • Duus, Masayo. Tokyo Rose.
  • Howe, Russell Warren. The Hunt for Tokyo Rose.
  • Gunn, Rex B. They Called Her Tokyo Rose.

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