Repeating the Past...Part II
Tokyo Rose

Even after my last article about my willingness to teach Trump online, I haven’t heard back from Mar-o-Lago. I can’t imagine Trump being too busy to take a history class from me online. He feels really capable of doing college work.

Trump to reporter: I'm a very stable genius

Therefore, I decided to send the guy I talked to at Mar-o-Lago another example of an online history class. After it is posted, I’ll call back and give him the link to this essay. My previous class for the Donald dealt with the run-up to the Japanese surrender. This class is about the run-up to Pearl Harbor and the ensuing decades.

This is the backstory. Iva Ikuko Toguri was the daughter of two immigrants from Japan who came here in the early 20th century. Iva was born in Los Angeles, California, on July 4, 1916. She went to Compton High School and got her degree at UCLA in zoology in 1940.

The following year, Iva went to Japan to visit one of her family members who still lived in Japan. One particular relative was extremely ill. To travel overseas, she was issued a Certificate of Identification. I don’t know why she wasn’t given a passport. Nonetheless, several months after visiting family members in Japan, Iva requested a passport from the US Embassy in Japan. The embassy sent the request to Washington.

However, the Japanese had just attacked Pearl Harbor, which meant they wouldn’t allow her back into the US. They claimed that she wasn’t a citizen. Several months later, Iva’s parents were moved to an internment camp. There were 120,000 Japanese Americans forced into ten internment camps from 1942 to 1946.

Japanese detainees during WWII

Japanese detainees during WWII

The Japanese government, for its part, wanted Iva to do propaganda broadcasts to the American soldiers fighting in the Pacific. She won’t do that, which meant that the Japanese labeled her an enemy alien. Iva wasn’t given any type of support during the war. Iva couldn’t even get a ration card for food. Despite being an enemy alien, she found employment working as a typist.

Things got progressively worse for Iva. Allied POWs captured by the Japanese were forced to work on radio broadcasts while jailed. Iva smuggled food into a prison camp for Allied troops. It wasn’t long before she was in prison with them. The other POWs were forced to make propaganda news broadcasts, but she refused. The prisoners, for whom she had smuggled in food, protected her from making any comments dissing the US. Essentially, she was a disc jockey and used the name Little Orphan Annie.

After the war, Iva was arrested and spent a year in jail due to an allegation by Harry Brundidge of Cosmopolitan that she was Tokyo Rose. The FBI, Gen. MacArthur’s staff, and her POW colleagues denied that she was Tokyo Rose, nor did she produce any propaganda. Also, Tokyo Rose was a name American servicemen used for nearly two-dozen Japanese women broadcasting from Japan.

Finally, the Justice Department charged Iva with eight counts of treason. After days of deliberation, the jury could only find her guilty of one charge. She got fined $10,000 and sentenced to ten years in jail. This is the quote that was the basis for being found guilty of treason, “Orphans of the Pacific, you are orphans now. How will you get home now that your ships are sunk?”

Whether that comment was treasonous or not was irrelevant. There are no audio copies of her saying that statement nor any written transcripts.

Iva behind bars

Iva behind bars

Iva was released after six years for good behavior in 1956. She went to Chicago to work in a small shop. Twenty years later, two Japanese Americans who testified for the government said that the government forced them to testify as government witnesses. If they didn’t, they would lose their citizenship. So, they lied.

Finally, in 1977, Iva was exonerated of treason, and her American citizenship was reinstated. Reflecting upon her mistreatment by our government, this was her stoic comment, “I’m not the only one in human history that has paid a heavy price.” If you are looking for a mentor, Iva would be one you might wish to pick.

So, what have we learned about Tokyo Rose? Our government lied eight decades ago to an American citizen. Trump won’t wish to take my class, since he ran our government, which did the same thing.

And what about today? George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is a personal caveat to governmental lies about which I’m aware. Next month, I’ll be eighty. I hope my government doesn’t wait too long to rectify its lies.

Morley Safer interviewed Iva. It is excellent.