As I sit here in the office (awaiting something to do) I read my paper, and for once stop to read the obituaries. I know that this might seem a little bit morbid, but every now and again I do like to read them, if only to marvel at some of the amazing lives that have been lived.
In today’s Times is the obituary of Iva Toguri an American citizen who was falsely accused of being the notorious Japanese propagandist “Tokyo Rose*”.
It is an amazing story. Iva had travelling out to Japan just before Pearl Harbour to visit an ill aunt and being an American-Japanese had been arrested at the onset of hostilities. While out there she participated in radio broadcasts to Allied troops (not that she’d been given the choice) but evidence has since pointed out that the broadcasts she had been involved in weren’t the ‘Tokyo Rose’ ones.
After the war had ended the FBI, under pressure to arrest the traitorous ‘Tokyo Rose’ found out that Iva had worked at the radio station and arrested her. After being transported back to the United States the FBI paid ‘witnesses’ to commit prejury. The evidence was non-existant or simply not true. The most surprising thign about the trial was that in the end Iva was sentanced to only ten years in jail and $10,000 fine, as opposed to either life imprisonment or the death sentance.
After serving six years of her sentance, being the model prisoner Iva was released and went to live with her father in Chicago.
In 1976 a media campaign, led by Bill Kurtis of CBS, brought to life new evidence of Iva’s enforced wartime occupation and the extent of the prejury at her trial. She was pardoned by President Ford as his last act in January 1977. Not once did she utter a word of complaint against those who had mistreated her and sent her to jail. Though pardoned the fine was never returned. She passed away Sept. 26, 2006 aged 90.
It’s a truely amazing life. Arrested by both sides of the war, branded a traitor by her home and never complaining. If such a thing were to happen today you can imagine the press having a field day, the compensation for wringful imprisonment along would stretch into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Truely an amazing woman.
* – if you, like me, didn’t know about the Tokyo Rose, it was the name given to English-speaking Japanese women who broadcast to the Allied troops, playing up the Japanese victories and pouring scourn on their enemies. Chosen for their sexy-sounding voices it was hoped that they would undermine the GI’s moral. It was the GI’s who gave these women the generic name ‘Tokyo Rose’.