Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tokyo Rose - siren of the wartime airwaves

Tokyo Rose died on September 26th, 2006. Or rather she didn't. The 90 year-old woman who died that day was Iva Toguri.

Her troubled tale is a sad one, a tale of racism, greed and hysteria, and you can read a summary of her life in The Times' obituary. Iva Toguri was the American woman arrested as the infamous Tokyo Rose, the seductive voice of Japanese World War 2 radio propaganda, a voice designed to make American troops go all wobbly at the knees. The fact that Tokyo Rose was a myth seemed not to bother the US authorities of the time, nor the slavering media pack, hot on the scent of a sensational scoop.
Tokyo Rose was found guilty, yet in spite of what appears an injust six year incarceration, Iva Toguri remained stoic to the end, refusing to criticize those who had hounded her. She was pardoned by the government of the country that she loved, the US, in the 1970s.

Her story has been told in great detail by Masayo Duus in Tokyo Rose: Orphan of the Pacific.

Iva Toguri's story is worth a read, if only to make you think about what actually constitutes treason in this day and age. What levels of work for the benefit of the enemy are acceptable for POWs in prison camps? What is collaboration?


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