TREASON: Your Old Friend

  • Share
  • Read Later

Like gas-rationing and the nylon shortage, Tokyo Rose had faded fast in most people's memories. Veterans of the Pacific war remembered her, though—and so did the U.S. Government. Last week, in a rococo marble courtroom in San Francisco, the Government put California-born Tokyo Rose on trial for treason.

Of the seven Tokyo Roses who had broadcast to U.S. troops, she was the only American. Her real name was Iva Toguri. Born in Los Angeles on the Fourth of July, 1916, she was like most first-generation Japanese-Americans, more American than Japanese. She went to movies and the races, hero-worshiped James Stewart, as a coed at U.C.L.A. noisily rooted for the football team.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Iva was in Tokyo, either caring for an ailing aunt (according to her) or studying medicine (according to the Government). In November 1943, she went on the air with her slangy, vernacular American, identified herself as "your favorite enemy, Orphan Annie."*

"Hi, boys . . . this is your old friend," she once broadcast, "I've got some swell new recordings for you, just in from the States. You'd better enjoy them while you can, because tomorrow at 0600 you're hitting Saipan . . . and we're ready for you. So, while you're still alive, let's listen to . . ." Iva, the Government contends, also called U.S. troops "suckers," and "boneheads of the Pacific," told them that their wives and sweethearts back home were being unfaithful to them.

The Government was spending more than half a million dollars to prepare its case, including $23,000 to fly 19 witnesses from Japan. Throughout the prosecution's opening statement last week, Tokyo Rose —slight, neat and poker-faced—sat quietly, looking more like a nursemaid than a treasonous enemy of the U.S. With her in court was her husband, Felipe d'Aquino, a Portuguese whom she married in Tokyo in April 1945.

Iva's lawyer contends that she acquired Portuguese citizenship when she married d'Aquino and that U.S. treason laws are not applicable to her. He also contends that the "poor kid" was only a disc jockey, and "all she did was make simple introductions to the music." The Government, the prosecutor declared, would not seek the death penalty.

* Later in the war, in a copy of TIME that reached Japan via neutral Stockholm, Iva first learned of the G.I. nickname "Tokyo Rose"—or so she says.