These records relate to the treason prosecution of Iva Ikuko Toguri D'Aquino, commonly referred to as "Tokyo Rose." The correspondences concern legal matters, process of the case through the courts, trial witnesses, and "Zero Hour" program broadcasts.
"Tokyo Rose" was not an actual person, but the nickname name given by U.S. soldiers to the collective of a series of women who made English-language propaganda broadcasts under different aliases.
After the end of World War II two American reporters, Henry Brundidge and Clark Lee, went to Japan to find "Tokyo Rose." The reporters' leg work lead to Toguri. Brundidge and Lee offered her money in exchange for an exclusive interview. She agreed and signed a contract that identified her as "Tokyo Rose." As a result of her interview with the two reporters, Aquino came to be seen by the public, though not by Army or FBI investigators, as the protagonist "Tokyo Rose." Brundidge and Lee never paid Aquino for the interview. In September 1945, after the press had reported that Aquino was "Tokyo Rose," U.S. Army authorities arrested her.
Iva Ikuko Toguri D'Aquino (July 4, 1916 – September 26, 2006) was born in Los Angeles, California to Japanese immigrant parents. Toguri attended the University of California at Los Angeles, UCLA, and graduated in 1940 with a degree in zoology. On July 5, 1941, Toguri sailed for Japan from San Pedro, California, without a U.S. passport. In subsequent years, she gave two reasons for her trip: to visit a sick aunt and to study medicine. In September of that year, Toguri appeared before the U.S. Vice Consul in Japan to obtain a passport, stating she wished to return to the U.S. for permanent residence. Because she left the U.S. without a passport, her application was forwarded to the Department of State for consideration. Before arrangements were completed for issuing a passport, Japan attacked America, and war was declared.
Many Japanese Americans in Japan renounced their U.S. citizenship after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, often to prevent harsh treatment from Imperial Japan. Toguri refused to renounce her citizenship. Japanese authorities did not detain her with enemy aliens because they did not deem her a threat and they thought she could support herself.
From mid-1942 until late 1943, Toguri worked as a typist for the Japanese Domei News Agency. In August 1943, Toguri gained employment as a typist for Radio Tokyo, when it was seeking a typist fluent in English.
Allied prisoners of war were forced to broadcast propaganda including the radio show The Zero Hour. In November 1943, Toguri was asked to become a broadcaster for Radio Tokyo on the Zero Hour program. The show was produced by an Australian POW Army officer, Major Charles Cousens, who had pre-war broadcast experience and had been captured at the fall of Singapore. Cousens had been tortured and coerced to work on radio broadcasts. The program was part of a Japanese psychological warfare campaign designed to lower the morale of U.S. Armed Forces.
"The Zero Hour" was a 75-minute broadcast that was part news, part entertainment. Toguri read scripts written by a U.S. prisoner of war, Major Ted Ince, along with a Filipino prisoner of war, Philippine Army Lieutenant Normando Ildefonso "Norman" Reyes. The team producing the show tried to introduce double meaning and entendre into scripts.
By late 1944, Toguri was writing her own material for the program. Her salary at Radio Tokyo reportedly amounted to 150 yen per month, approximately $7 in U.S. currency.
On April 19, 1945, Iva Toguri married Felipe Aquino, a Portuguese citizen of Japanese-Portuguese ancestry.
In September 1945, after the press reported that Aquino was "Tokyo Rose," U.S. Army authorities arrested her. The FBI and the Army's Counterintelligence Corps conducted an extensive investigation to determine whether Aquino had committed crimes against the
United States. By the following October, authorities decided that the evidence then known did not merit prosecution, and she was released.
In a Justice Department document found in this collection, dated September 24, 1946, the Assistant Attorney General wrote, "Considerable investigation has been conducted in this case and it appears, that the identification of Toguri as "Tokyo Rose" is erroneous..."
When Toguri took steps toward returning to the United States, American veterans groups and the broadcaster Walter Winchell began a campaign to block her return and called for her to be charged with treason.
The Justice Department re-examined the case, straining to find a justification for charging her with treason. The Justice
Department sent one of its attorneys and reporter Harry Brundidge to Japan to search for witnesses. Brundidge enticed a former contact of his to perjure himself. With new witnesses and evidence, the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco convened a grand jury, and Aquino was indicted on eight counts. She was brought under military escort to the U.S., arriving in San Francisco on September 25, 1948.
On July 5, 1949, one day after her 33rd birthday, Aquino's trial began. On September 29, 1949, the jury found her guilty on one count. On October 6, 1949, Aquino was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment and fined $10,000 for the crime of treason. On January 28, 1956, she was released from the Federal Reformatory for Women at Alderson, West Virginia, where she had served six years and two months of her sentence. She successfully fought government efforts to deport her and she returned to Chicago.
In 1974, investigative journalists found that key witnesses claimed they were forced to lie during testimony. Toguri was pardoned by U.S. President Gerald Ford in 1977.
Iva Ikuko Toguri D'Aquino is the only person convicted of treason in the United States to ever receive a pardon.
Highlights from the documents include: A memo giving the conclusion of the Assistant Attorney General that Aquino did not commit a crime; Information about the search for witnesses; A June 8, 1949 report that one of the witnesses used against Aquino claimed that the testimony he gave to the grand jury against Aquino was false; Letters from citizens complaining about the return of "Tokyo Rose" to the United States; Efforts by the U.S. government to collect $10,000 in fines are shown in memos from the late 1960's.