Thursday, March 13, 2014
The mugshot of Tokyo Rose, 1946.
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Tokyo Rose (alternative spelling Tokio Rose) was a generic name given by Allied forces in the South Pacific during World War II to any of approximately a dozen English-speaking female broadcasters of Japanese propaganda. However, Iva Toguri is the most famously linked name behind the Tokyo Rose. She was a native to Los Angeles and was stranded in Japan because she was visiting her family when the war broke out. The intent of these broadcasts was to disrupt the morale of Allied forces listening to the broadcast. American servicemen in the Pacific often listened to the propaganda broadcasts to get a sense, by reading between the lines, of the effect of their military actions. She often undermined the anti-American scripts by reading them in a playful, tongue-in-cheek fashion, even going as far as to warn her listeners to expect a “subtle attack” on their morale.
Farther from the action, stories circulated that Tokyo Rose could be unnervingly accurate, naming units and even individual servicemen; though such stories have never been substantiated by documents such as scripts and recorded broadcasts, they have been reflected in popular books and films such as Flags of Our Fathers. Similar rumors surround the propaganda broadcasts of Lord Haw-Haw and Axis Sally.
Toguri’s prominence saw her branded as one of the war’s most notorious propagandists, but evidence shows that she was not a Japanese sympathizer. Toguri’s program became conflated with more vicious propaganda, and she was arrested and convicted of treason after the Japanese surrender. She was released from prison in 1956, but it would take more than 20 years before she finally received an official presidential pardon for her role in the war.