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Friday, April 04, 2008

Iva Toguri (1916-2006)

Ikuko Toguri (戸栗郁子) was born July 4, 1916, in Los Angeles, California. She was given the English language name "Iva," which is pronounced, "EE-vuh." Iva's parents were Jun, a merchant, was born in Japan but came to the United States by way of Canada, and Fumi, who came from Japan to become Jun's wife in 1913. Her father was a merchant. There were three children in the Toguri family. She lived in

Iva was a Girl Scout and an honor student at Los Angeles High School. She went to UCLA and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology in 1941. It was her dream to become a doctor. But, after finishing college, Iva's mother got word that one of her sisters in Tokyo was not well and it was the responsibility for the oldest child to go visit. Iva also had dreams of medical school and she thought, even though she couldn't speak Japanese, that she could attend school in Japan. After all, medicine is medicine, right?

Before securing a passport, Iva went to a ship office in San Pedro to secure a ticket to Tokyo. The ticket was amazingly inexpensive... she couldn't have gotten a rail ticket on the Coast Daylight to San Francisco that cheap! Next, she went to the passport office. When asking where she was going, she proudly said, "Tokyo, Japan!"

The official said, "Really, young lady? Do you know what's going on in Japan right now? Japan wants to take over the rest of Asia. I wouldn't be surprised if the United States will be at war by the end of the year." He looked at her thoughtfully. "Did you already buy a ticket?"

"Yes, sir."

"I bet it was really cheap."

"Yes. It was."

"Well, I'll tell you what... This office can't give you a passport to go to Japan but we can give you a foreign identification card. I need a photograph and your birth certificate."

Iva gave the man the things he asked for. In less than thirty minutes he came back with a very official looking document that looked like it could fit in her wallet. He explained that it worked just like a passport. When she would get to Yokohama, all she would do is show the card and they'd let her in. No questions asked.

She left on July 5, 1941, the day after her 25th birthday. The ship, the Arabia Maru, was actually attacked on the way to Japan by Japanese military airplanes.

When arriving in Japan, she tried to find her aunt's house. She tried looking in the phone directory, which was written in Japanese. She spent almost a week looking until she got the idea to go to a police station.

"Can you help me? I need to find my aunt..."

The police sergeant at the front desk was a little puzzled looking.

"Oh.. You don't speak English?"

He spoke up... "Yes, I do. But what are you doing here? You're American, right?"

"Is Japan at war with the United States?"

"Not yet..."

She looked startled at the man. And then she gave him the name of her aunt. He looked up the name and she was taken there in a police car. The aunt seemed fine. She didn't look sick at all. Her mother looked sicker than this! Iva proved to be more of a pain to her family in Japan than help. She couldn't speak Japanese. So she couldn't work. She'd spend hours a day playing the piano and listening to English language broadcasts on the short-wave radio. Now the real trick was to figure how to get back home. She knew she was unwelcome. How would this work out?

The Japanese Imperial Navy attacked Honolulu at 3:50 am on Monday, December 8, 1941, Tokyo time. At around 6:00 am, there was a rude knock on the door. Iva was still sleeping on the floor in the living room, where she always slept. The police said that she could no longer stay with her relatives. Her personal belongings were placed in two cardboard boxes and the police took her to the "red light district" of Tokyo, where they didn't care what happened to her. She had no money and no friends and she couldn't speak Japanese. The first thing she did was ask around to see if she could find somewhere to live. Next, she asked the same people where she could learn how to speak Japanese. She took a course in Japanese and spoke enough that she could understand simple instructions.When Jimmy Doolittle's (1896-1993) squadron raided Tokyo on April 18, 1942, she knew what was happening and, even though her life was in danger, she cheered openly. At this time, she began teaching piano lessons for children, which paid for her room and the language lessons but she was still dependent on the kindness of those around her to feed her. Iva would often eat what was left in garbage cans when she couldn't find anything else. She lived this way for over a year.

And then she began working as an English language typist for the Japanese news agency, Domei. Domei's connection with NHK Radio Tokyo led the radio service to hire Iva as an English language announcer for the short-wave transmissions they were sending to American and Australian military personnel stationed in the South Pacific. That actually wouldn't take place for another year. So Iva struggled and struggled.

The radio program was called The Zero Hour. It was put together by prisoners of war. Iva actually wanted to stay with the prisoners but that couldn't be allowed. The program consisted of a man giving the news (he had a fake Japanese accent and was either American or Australian). Music was announced by a cadre of around 18 Japanese women and Iva. Each had a different "handle" they would use as announcer. Dutchie was very popular. She had a high pitched voice. Iva was Orphan Ann. She got the name from what she missed from America: She loved the Sunday comics. Her favorite was Little Orphan Annie. She missed the radio shows Little Orphan Annie (which went off the air just before she left California) and The Shadow. She loved the movies and had a terrible girlish crush on Jimmy Stewart which lasted through college. It should also be noted that she was registered as a Republican for the 1940 Presidential election and campaigned rather verbally for Wendell Willkie. And the Japanese kept giving her the opportunity to register as a Japanese citizen. Her father, who was a very patriotic American, always told her, "A tiger never changes its stripes. You will always be you, my loving daughter." In time that statement would be linked with Iva during her subsequent trial in the middle of all of this. But the statement was actually her father's.

Those women on The Zero Hour collectively became known as Tokyo Rose. There never was a person who claimed that handle. It was a GI nickname. She was said to be the enemy, but most of the servicemen knew she was harmless.

In due time, she became romantically involved with a Portuguese national with a Japanese mother (he also claimed Japanese citizenship) by the name of Felipe D'Aquino. They married on April 19, 1945. It was during a bombing raid on Tokyo. Iva and Felipe were very much in love and Felipe told her how much he wanted to go to America with her. Then the war was over. The radio program went off the air and she was subsequently arrested by the occupying United States Army in September. One of the mothers, whose son was killed in the South Pacific Ocean during the war heard a rumor that "Tokyo Rose" gave away some military secrets on one of her radio shows. Harry Brundage, who wrote for Cosmopolitan Magazine, offered a reward of $250 for anyone who could find Tokyo Rose. That Cosmo was nothing like the magazine today and was read by men and women. Anyway, she was found and arrested. Iva remained in Japan for another three years. Felipe came to visit her (conjugally) and she became pregnant while in prison. In 1948, her baby was miscarried. It's thought that the events of her life caused this to happen. She was held in Sugamo Prison in Japan and was then sent to California for trial.

In the trial, Iva was exploited and used. The judge felt she was guilty long before the trial even started. So he did his best to make a show out of the whole thing. Although the proceedings were overly drawn out, the sentencing was swift. She had to serve ten years plus pay a $10,000 fine. Iva stayed in prison only until 1957 on parole, at which time she went back to her father in Chicago. Felipe was completely out of her life. Because of many factors, the couple knew that he shouldn't have stayed in the United States. And Iva was dead set against going anywhere outside the country... not even Mexico or Canada.

President Gerald Ford pardoned Iva in 1976, which was the very last thing he did as President. Four years later, Iva and Felipe finally divorced. She continued living in Chicago and running the store, even after her father died. Iva died at her home in Chicago on September 26, 2006, at the age of 90. She died of old age.


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