The Hunt for “Tokyo Rose”

“Orphan Ann” Home Page: III. The Hunt for “Tokyo Rose”

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Sayonara, “Tokyo Rose” … Hello Again, “Orphan Ann”!

(4 Jul 1916 – 26 Sep 2006)



III. The Hunt for “Tokyo Rose”

“I suppose, if they found someone and got the job over with, they were all satisfied. It was Eeny, Meeny, Miney … and I was Moe.” —Iva Toguri, to Morley Safer on 60 Minutes, broadcast on 24 June 1976

When General Douglas MacArthur’s plane set down at Atsugi on 30 August 1945, it also carried dozens of military and civilian reporters covering the historic event. Among them were Clark Lee of INS and Harry Brundidge of Cosmopolitan. These two reporters had joined forces to get the beat on the two most sought-after interviews in post-war Japan: Hideki Tojo and “Tokyo Rose.” The former was easy to find, he was under house arrest in Tokyo, but “Tokyo Rose” was a mystery.

Brundidge offered a $250 reward to anyone who could put him in touch with “Tokyo Rose” and $2,000 to “Rose” herself for an exclusive interview. The $250 reward was equal to ¥3,750 or about three year’s income. $2,000 was over ¥30,000—a fortune by either standard. Leslie Nakashima, a Nisei at Radio Tokyo, gave them Iva Toguri’s name, which Clark Lee promptly reported to the world at large.

Iva, figuring that she had as good a claim to the name and therefore the money as anyone else, signed a contract that identified her as “the one and only ‘Tokyo Rose.’”

 

Note Note Note
The United States of America was on the Gold Standard from 14 May 1900 to 31 December 1974. On 31 January 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed the U.S. gold dollar to be $35 per fine troy ounce. This value was ratified by Congress in the Gold Stablization Law of 19 January 1937 and reaffirmed in the Gold Price System of 17 March 1968.$250 in gold-backed 1945 dollars would be about $3,000 dollars in today’s currency. $2,000 in gold-backed 1945 dollars would be about $24,000 dollars in today’s currency.

 

But Brundidge had jumped the gun. His editor at Cosmopolitan not only rejected the story, but also refused to authorize the $2,000 payment. The money would have to come out of Brundidge’s own pocket unless he could void the contract. He took Lee’s 17-page notes of the interview to 8th Army Counter Intelligence Corps commander General Elliot Thorpe and urged him to arrest Iva Toguri: “She’s a traitor and here’s her confession.” He also suggested a mass news conference between Toguri and the other 300 reporters, which would abrogate the terms of his “exclusive” contract and allow him to escape payment.

Not knowing Brundidge’s hidden agenda, everyone agreed and Iva met with reporters at the Yokohama Bund Hotel. She subsequently gave interviews to Yank and Pacific Stars & Stripes and recorded a simulated “Orphan Ann” broadcasts for the American newsreels. Iva thought that “Tokyo Rose” was the popular darling of the GIs, as “Orphan Ann” had always been intended to be. She thought she was now a radio celebrity and happily signed autographs and posed for pictures as “Tokyo Rose.”

Iva cheerfully answered all the questions put to her by 8th Army CIC, laughing off suggestions that she might have done anything wrong in broadcasting for the Japanese. She was puzzled by questions about her giving predictions of troop movements and impending counterattacks, talk about wives in the arms of 4-Fs (Iva had never even heard the term “4-F” before, much less used it any of her broadcasts) and other such nonsense, but offered her Radio Tokyo scripts to set the record straight.

Meanhile, back in the U.S., the news that “Tokyo Rose” was an American citizen who intended to return to her home in California sparked angry protests.

Arrest

On 17 October 1945, Iva Toguri d’Aquino was washing her hair when three CIC officers arrived at her apartment in Setagaya and asked her to accompany them to Yokohama to answer a few more questions. As they were leaving, she was told that she might have to stay overnight and that she should bring a toothbrush.

Only after she arrived at the 8th Army HQ brig was she told that she was in fact under arrest, with no warrant and no charges. A debate ensued as to whether she was Japanese or American, to be fed rice or bread, to be given a futon or a cot.

She finally got the bread and the cot, but was kept awake for the next three days by a constant stream of curiosity-seekers and rowdy name-callers outside her cell. She was allowed one bucket of hot water every three days to bathe herself and launder her clothes. Felipe d’Aquino was denied a visitor’s pass when he tried to see her. One of her guards extorted a “Tokyo Rose” autograph from her by leaving the lights on in her cell for a week.

Sugamo

Iva’s arrest for treason was announced publicly, but Iva herself was never told the reason for which she was being held. A month later, she was transferred to Sugamo Prison and placed in a cell on “Blue Block,” where diplomats and women accused of war crimes were held. She spent the next eleven and a half months locked in a 6-by-9 cell, allowed only one 20-minute visit from Felipe on the first of each month and a bath every three days. In a bizarre episode, she was spied upon while bathing by a contingent of seventeen visiting Congressmen, who had come to the prison to “look in” on Tojo.

Early in her imprisonment, she learned of her mother’s death enroute to the internment camp in Arizona and her family’s subsequent relocation to Chicago.

Sugamo

While Iva was in custody, Major Cousens was tried by the Australian Army and acquitted of treason for his work for the Japanese. He returned to work at Radio Sydney.

Captain Ince was not only cleared of all wrongdoing but also promoted to Major.

Meanwhile, Iva was interrogated by the Army CIC and the FBI, neither of which seemed to believe anything she told them.

All the evidence indicated that “Tokyo Rose” was a composite person and that Iva had done nothing treasonable.

Released

On 25 October 1946, Iva was told at 11 am that she was to be released “without condition” from Sugamo Prison later that day, but she wasn’t allowed to leave the prison until 7 p.m. that evening.

A crowd of reporters waiting for one last look at the notorious “Tokyo Rose” greeted her at the gates: Reuters, INS, AP, UPI, Domei, Tass, Australian and French.

A platoon of soldiers formed double ranks as an honor guard and Sugamo Prison commandant Colonel Hardy presented her with a bouquet of cosmos flowers before escorting her past the reporters, flanked by two MPs. Her husband Felipe, now working as a Linotypist for an English-language Yokohama newspaper, shielded her from the press as they got into a waiting jeep amid popping flashbulbs. Iva had spent a year, a week and a day in military custody without ever once being charged with a crime.

Iva and Felipe hid out for awhile, then she applied for a passport to return home, but was again frustrated by the lack of documentation that had gotten her stranded in Japan in the first place. Iva became pregnant in 1947 and vowed her child would be born in the U.S., but the baby died shortly after he was born in January 1948. It is likely that this loss, too, was a result of her imprisonment. She was physically exhausted and emotionally devastated by this tragic loss for over three months, at the end of which she was again ruthlessly exploited.


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Last Update: 01 January 2017

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