Tokyo Rose by Linda

Tokyo Rose


Tokyo Rose was merely an American nickname given to Iva Toguri D’Aquino by the Allied soldiers during World War II. In fact, any reporter broadcasting propaganda in Japan that was a woman was coined with the notorious term. But to Iva, she was a lost child in enemy territory and most often referred to herself as “Orphan Ann”. This self-made nickname used as a radio show persona would eventually lead to her being the seventh (and second woman) American to be convicted of treason.

iva6Iva was born on July 4, 1916 in Los Angeles. She led a normal life, raised Methodist, graduated from University of California with a degree in Zoology and was a registered Republican. In July of 1941, Iva traveled to Japan to visit a sick relative with only a Certificate of Identification issued by the U.S. State Department but no passport. When Iva wished to return home in September, her request for a passport was forwarded to the State Department but she never received an answer before the attack on Pearl Harbor and was unfortunately, left stranded in Japan.

After refusing the Japanese Government’s request to renounce her American citizenship, she was declared an enemy alien and wasn’t given a war ration card. She eventually found work as a typist with a Japanese news agency and then with Radio Tokyo to support herself. Iva was designated to host portions on the radio show The Zero Hour. Her producer, Major Charles Cousens and his assistants were prisoners of war that had been forced to broadcast propaganda. Being assured by her producer that she would not have to read scripts broadcasting anti-American news, she agreed. She coined herself as “Orphan Annie”. She would perform various comedy sketches, play American recorded music and do short 20 minute speaking segments.

In April of 1945, Iva was married to Felipe D’Aquino who was of Japanese-Portuguese descent and a citizen in Japan. Although the marriage was registered with the Portuguese Consulate in Tokyo, Iva refused to take her husband’s citizenship.

iva3Upon Japan’s surrender August 15, 1945 Iva was stuck in a postwar economic hell. Desperate to survive and still waiting for her U.S. passport to be processed, she had a try at making money off of her newfound fame as a reporter. She was offered a sum of $2,000 to interview with Cosmopolitan magazine as the exclusive “Tokyo Rose”. Instead of receiving the attention and monetary assurance she was promised, Iva found herself arrested after Harry T. Brundidge took the story to the army and called it a “confession”. Iva was held for a year in a 6-by-9 foot cell at Sugamano Prison in Tokyo where she was only allowed washes every 3 days, 20 minute meetings with her husband monthly, and abused by guards who shined the lights on her until she would sign autographs. Due to lack of evidence, she was released after a year.

Expecting a child, Iva once again tried to return to the United States only to be greeted with gossip and many lobbying against her. She gave birth in Japan but the baby did not survive. Without any time to grieve the loss of a child, Iva was re-arrested by the U.S. Military who transported her to San Francisco where she was charged with 8 counts of treason. There were 46 witnesses that testified against Iva, including her previous supervisors from Tokyo Radio. Boxes of tapes were set on the prosecutors table that were never heard in the court room nor were they ever entered into evidence. These witnesses even had trouble deciphering whether they had heard Iva Toguri through broadcasts or if it were by rumor that they knew of her.


The line that put Iva away, ultimately, was a broadcast where she was directed to allude to the loss of American ships. A co-worker claimed that she said:

“Now you fellow have lost all your ships. Now you really are orphans of the Pacific. How do you think you will ever get home?”

iva1Iva Toguri D’Aquino was found guilty, fined $10,000 and was sent to serve a 10 year sentence. Her attorney had lamented that the verdict was guilty without evidence. She was paroled after 6 years of time spent in Federal Reformatory for Women and was released in January, 1956. Iva had split from her husband after he was forced to sign a document barring him from ever being on U.S. soil ever again after the trial and didn’t see him again. Trying to regain a normal way of living, Iva moved to Chicago, Illinois and worked in a shop her father owned until the day she died in 1996.

The Aftermath

iva7After an investigation held by the Chicago Tribune’s report Ron Yates, it was exposed that two witnesses that provided the most detrimental testimonies against Iva had come forth exposing perjury. They confessed that the FBI and U.S. occupation police had threatened and coached them what to say on stand for two months prior to the trial. On the last day of Gerald Ford’s presidency, he granted Iva Toguri D’Aquion a full unconditional pardon which restored her U.S. citizenship.