'Tokyo Rose' Receives Pardon
By Patrick Mondout
On January 19, 1977, Iva Toguri D'Aquino, an American citizen of
Japanese descent who made Japanese propaganda broadcasts to U.S. troops
during World War II, is pardoned from her treason charge by outgoing U.S.
President Gerald R. Ford.
D'Aquino was the most widely known of the English-speaking announcers
at Tokyo Radio, a state-owned radio network that engaged in psychological
warfare against U.S. troops stationed in the southwestern Pacific. In an
attempt to demoralize its American listeners by making them homesick,
Radio Tokyo broadcast dance music and nostalgic reminiscences about
everyday American life, along with claims by Tokyo Rose that the
servicemen's women were consorting with other men at home.
The radio programs were extremely popular with U.S. servicemen located
in remote areas of the Pacific, although there is little evidence that the
broadcasts had any negative effect. Among several English-speaking female
announcers at Tokyo Radio, D'Aquino was the favorite of U.S. troops, who
fondly referred to her as "Tokyo Rose."
After the Japanese surrender, U.S. officials arrested D'Aquino in Japan
and charged her with treason. During her subsequent trial, she maintained
that she was visiting a sick aunt in Japan at the time of the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor, and thus had not been able to return to the United
States. Looking for a way to support herself in wartime Japan, she went to
work for the state radio network as a secretary, and was later coerced
into her position as an announcer.
The U.S. military tribunal found her guilty of treason, fined her
$10,000, and sentenced her to ten years in prison. After six years in
prison, she was released and over the next two decades she waged a
tireless campaign to clear her name, finally receiving a pardon from
President Ford on the last day of his administration.