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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

October 3, 2006

Written by C.N.

Woman Suspected as “Tokyo Rose” Dies

People who aren’t familiar with World War II will probably not know who the woman identified as “Tokyo Rose” is. Her name is Iva Toguri D’Aquino, a Japanese American woman wrongly convicted of treason by the U.S. after World War II, who died this past week at the age of 90. The Guardian Unlimited has a brief summary of her life and story:

Fresh out of UCLA, she was visiting a sick aunt in Japan when the Pacific war broke out in December 1941. Unable to find a way home, she started working for a Japanese propaganda show produced by Allied prisoners of war called Zero Hour, performing comedy skits and newscasts under the name Orphan Ann. . . . In an exclusive interview with two newspaper reporters, she made remarks that convinced US authorities that she had been the pro-Japanese propagandist known as Tokyo Rose.

It later became clear, however, that no such woman existed and that the nickname had been invented by US troops to describe several women who made propaganda broadcasts under different aliases. . . . Shortly after the war, D’Aquino was released from custody when an investigation . . . failed to produce enough evidence to charge her with aiding the enemy. But her release provoked a public outcry back in the US and led to a concerted campaign against her by the influential newspaper columnist Walter Winchell.

His pressure paid off, and in late 1945 D’Aquino was arrested in Yokohama and sent back to her homeland to face trial. She was convicted of treason four years later. . . . {She] was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $10,000. A model prisoner, she was released three years early in 1956, and successfully fought US government attempts to deport her to Japan. In 1977, she was acquitted, post factum, by the then US president, Gerald Ford.

Ron Yates, a reporter on the Chicago Tribune who unearthed evidence that prosecutors had forced witnesses to lie about D’Aquino’s role in the broadcasts, was instrumental in securing the pardon.

Hmmm let’s think about this for a minute — using wartime hysteria, paranoid proclamations of “national security interests,” and falsified intelligence to wrongly detain and convict people perceived as “foreigners” as potential enemies of the state. That sort of thing couldn’t happen nowadays, could it? Someone’s basic civil rights to a fair and impartial trial would never be compromised to such a blatant extent these days, right? Surely presidential administrations would have learned their lessons by now, correct?

Uhhh, no.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Woman Suspected as “Tokyo Rose” Dies" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/10/woman-suspected-as-tokyo-rose-dies/> ().

Short URL: http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/?p=309