Tokyo Rose Biography

Tokyo Rose
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Tokyo Rose
Quick Facts

Birthday: July 4, 1916

Nationality: American

Famous: American Women University Of California, Los Angeles

Died At Age: 90

Sun Sign: Cancer

Also Known As: Iva Ikuko Toguri D'Aquino, Iva Toguri D'Aquino, Orphan Ann, Iva Toguri

Born Country: United States

Born in: Los Angeles, California, United States

Famous as: Radio Broadcaster


Spouse/Ex-: Felipe D'Aquino (m. 1945 - div. 1980)

Died on: September 26, 2006

place of death: Chicago, Illinois, United States

U.S. State: California

City: Los Angeles

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education: University of California - Los Angeles, Compton College

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Iva Ikuko Toguri was a Japanese American radio broadcaster for ‘The Zero Hour’ show during the Second World War. Originally meant to be a propaganda program, ‘The Zero Hour’ instead became quite popular among American and other Allied soldiers serving in the South Pacific theatre primarily because of the female hosts with their husky voices, who dished out light-hearted jokes and taunts during pop music broadcasts. The soldiers coined the name ‘Tokyo Rose’ to refer to these entertaining hosts. Stranded in a foreign country, Toguri did the program for purely self-sustaining reasons, and even then, she never participated in putting out anything treasonous. However, when two self-serving reporters decided to brand Iva as the ‘Tokyo Rose’, her life became a living hell. The American government and its people too saw her as a traitor. As a result, she was first arrested and imprisoned by the army in 1945 in Japan. Later, she was brought back to the United States and tried for treason and imprisoned again. Finally pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1977, she nevertheless suffered great personal loss all because she stood by her American heritage throughout the long ordeal.
Childhood & Early Life
Iva Ikuko Toguri was born on 4th July 1916, in Los Angeles, California, to Jun and Fumi Toguri as the second of four children. Her parents were first generation Japanese immigrants in America.
Raised as Methodists, she and her siblings assimilated well into the American way of life. As a Girl Scout and popular at school, she was part of the tennis team.
She attended Compton Junior College and later got into University of California, Los Angeles. Majoring in zoology, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1941.
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After being issued a certificate of identification by the US State Department, Iva Ikuko Toguri travelled to Japan on July 5, 1941, to meet her ailing aunt there. Her mother could not go owing to her own frail health.
As the tensions between US and Japan heightened, her inability to read Japanese kept her in the dark about these developments. When the Pearl Harbour incident occurred, she found herself stranded in Tokyo with thousands of fellow Japanese Americans.
Her pro-American sentiments only worsened the situation. Forced to survive on her own, she moved into a boarding house and finally found work at the Domei News Agency in 1942 as an English language typist.
She took up a second job as a typist at Radio Tokyo. There, she made friends with Major Charles Cousens, an Australian POW, and later Captain Wallace Ince, an American POW. She was persuaded by Cousens to lend her voice for ‘The Zero Hour’ show, a Japanese propaganda piece aimed at Allied troops fighting in the Pacific.
In 1943, she joined ‘The Zero Hour’ broadcasting line-up, where she performed in comedy skits and did pre music introductions, but never participated in any newscasts.
However, unbeknownst to her, she and the other women who lent their voices to Japanese propaganda radio had become famous as ‘Tokyo Rose’ among Allied troops fighting in the Pacific.
After Japan’s surrender in 1945, war correspondents and reporters soon followed the army into the defeated country hoping to get an exclusive with Tokyo Rose over a circulating myth about an English-speaking female who taunted American troops through her shows.
Reporters Clark Lee of International News Service and Harry Brundidge of Cosmopolitan magazine, having identified Iva as a possible match for Tokyo Rose, met her on September 1, 1945, and offered her $2,000 for an exclusive interview. Unaware of the stigma attached to the name, she accepted the lucrative offer.
Soon, the army began investigating Iva Toguri and her treasonous role as Tokyo Rose. She was arrested and taken to Yokohama prison to be questioned by the army’s counterintelligence corps and was later transferred to Sugamo prison.
After her release on October 26, 1946, due to lack of evidence, she remained in Japan with her husband until she got pregnant the following year. Wanting her child to be born in the United States, she applied for re-entry but was denied clearance.
News of her return to America sparked protests, and calls for her prosecution by influential right-wing broadcaster Walter Winchell. The Tokyo Rose case was reopened, and she was arrested and brought to America on August 28, 1948.
She was held in a county jail in San Francisco for a year. She stood trial on July 5, 1949, on eight counts of treason. Three months later, the jury came out with a guilty verdict. She was given a ten-year prison sentence and fined $10,000.
She was released on parole on January 28, 1956, and moved back to Chicago, Illinois, to live with her family.
Based on the investigative reporting of Ron Yates and later Morley Safer in her favour, Iva Toguri received a full and unconditional pardon from US President Gerald Ford in 1977. With the pardon, her US citizenship was restored too.
Family & Personal Life
Iva Toguri was married to Felipe d'Aquino, a Portuguese man of Japanese heritage, whom she met during her time in Tokyo. The couple had a baby boy who died in infancy. Felipe was banned from entering the United States after his testimony in her trial. The two divorced in 1980.
During the war, her parents were sent to an internment camp along with thousands of other Americans of Japanese origin. Her mother died while at the camp. Sadly, Iva got to know of her mother’s death much later when she was in Sugamo prison.
She passed away on September 26th, 2006, from natural causes at the Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.

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