It is a very comfortable feeling to imagine that there is no past and that the future begins with the present [but] the future has a very awkward way of reminding us that our past will not down. Francis Neilson, The American Journal of Economics and Sociology (July 1949), p. 358.
World War II ended 30 years ago, but the unfinished business of this war clutters the planet. Unresolved political questions involving the territorial disposition of disputed regions have brought about the vicious Korean and Vietnam wars. The nearly 30 years of strife in the Mideast grows out of other aspects of unbalanced accounts of the war. The boundaries and structure of Germany are still as unsettled as they were three decades ago, and "war crimes" trials still go on there. For that matter, there still is no general peace treaty ending the war of 1939-1945.
On another level, there are many incidents which appear to be settled permanently, but are really in a kind of historical limbo, with the final word, if there ever will be one, far from forthcoming. One of these; the subject of this reappraisal, is the infamous treason trial of the woman known around the world three decades ago as "Tokyo Rose," and which, despite accepted modern legendry, has never been resolved. We already have a generation which has only the haziest notions as to what this case was all about, if they have any understanding about it at all. And very few of those old enough to recall the case realize that the person found guilty in the trial of 1949 has never admitted any guilt, and furthermore, her attorneys sought for 25 years thereafter to establish not only that she was innocent, but that she should be pardoned and compensated for past indignities.
This amazing narrative must be started on a broad scale, however, if one is to understand how the whole sorry tale be came part of the history of the times.
ANTI-JAPANESE PROPAGANDA The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, brought the United States formally into World War II. Americans fought the Japanese in the Pacific for nearly four years, about twice as long as they eventually fought the Germans and Italians in Europe. It was a veritable race war (Norman Thomas once described World War II in the Pacific as "an organized race riot"), and accompanying U.S. propaganda was pitched at a level of racial venom which many involved never did repudiate.
Hatred of the Japanese was developed into a science by the war administration's propaganda arm. On some levels it became so aggravated that one would have imagined Americans were fighting large insects in the Pacific islands, so degraded did the enemy become on the evolutionary scale invented by the clever chaps fighting a psychological war on the home front. A cursory examination of the popular press of 1941-45 reveals substantial slanderous dehumanization of the enemy in Asia, but it was far worse on what might be called the vulgar or informal level.
The purpose here is not to dwell on this aspect of the war, but it is necessary to have some understanding of the state of mind in superheated postwar America. It was part of the emotional climate in which such trials as that of "Tokyo Rose" took place. It was many years before any headway was discernible in efforts to dissipate the ferocity of Japanophobia in the United States, and overtones of this clever and successful brainwashing are palpable to this day, thanks in part to the reappearance of war-time anti-Japanese movies on television.
Much balderdash had emanated from "experts" and even military and naval spokesmen in the decade before Pearl Harbor, to the effect that the Japanese could not put up a decent fight against Americans for six months, that an American fighting man was worth at least a half dozen Asiatics, and that any encounter in the Pacific—predicted by all manner of "seers" after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05—would be little more than an outing. It was soon realized in 1942, however, that the United States was confronted by a tough, resourceful, and intelligent enemy, that it was going to be a long and bitter struggle. A steady drumfire of verbal abuse of the enemy was a substitute for victories for a time, and nothing was neglected which might be employed to paint the adversary as a monster.
RADIO TOKYO'S ROSES Beginning in 1942, American servicemen stationed in various parts of the Pacific began to receive on their radios continuous broadcasts of American music, that of the big dance bands which were at their peak of popularity. These recordings were accompanied by commentary by announcers, most of whom were English-speaking women. There were several of them, but the soldiers and sailors referred to them all as a single person, dubbed "Tokyo Rose," though no such name was ever used on Radio Tokyo, from which these broadcasts originated.
The exploits of this legendary disc jockey grew to wondrous proportions, and her fame spread in such a way that by the war's end there were few people in the United States who had not heard of her. Mothers imagined her as a purring, leering Lorelei who was undermining their clean-cut sons with all manner of unmentionable suggestions, especially encouraging them to believe wives and girl friends at home were "untrue." The press boiled with stories about this omnipresent woman, and radio blatherskites such as Walter Winchell and Drew Pearson were much exercised over it all.
With this brief background in mind, we may begin properly the historia calamitatum of Iva Ikuko Toguri. Born on July 4, 1916, of Japanese parents in Los Angeles, she graduated from U.C.L.A. in 1940. She was an outstanding premedical student there, as well as a talented pianist. The prewar decade being a time of poor opportunities for Nisei in the United States, she thought for a time of going to Japan to study medicine. But when she did go, in 1941, she went at the request of her parents to visit an ailing aunt; Iva's mother was too ill to undertake the visit herself.
It was while she was there at the home of her uncle that the Pearl Harbor attack took place, from which time her life became incredibly complicated. She later related the confusion that occurred because of her inability to speak Japanese and her unwillingness to believe at the start that such a thing had actually happened. It was two days after Pearl Harbor before she knew for sure that war had broken out.
A TRAGEDY OF ERRORS That she was still in Japan on December 7, 1941, was principally the fault of incompetent bureaucrats of two countries. She had left Los Angeles in such a hurry that she did not wait to obtain a passport, and was supplied only with what was called a "certificate of identification." When she tried to sail home on the Tatsu Maru in November 1941, the failure of the U.S. consul to have her passport ready and the inability of the Japanese monetary functionaries to expedite the exchange of her foreign funds caused her to miss the ship.
She tried to get back to the United States two more times on the Swedish ship Gripsholm, which was engaged during much of the early war carrying refugees back and forth from one belligerent to another. The first time was just before the war; she failed again in September 1942. By the latter date her parents were locked up in Arizona's Gila River concentration camp. (This and like camps are still described, in that exquisite hypocrisy Americans have inherited from their English tradition, as "relocation centers.") Under the circumstances, she was unable to get the money for the passage from them. Her mother later died in one of these camps.
But the troubles of Iva Toguri were just beginning. Her money soon ran out, and she became increasingly an object of suspicion, badgered by the Japanese police who could not understand why she did not renounce her U.S. citizenship. Matters were made worse by the breakdown in communication. She was denied a ration card, disowned by her uncle, and ended up wandering the streets of Tokyo for three months, following which she was admitted to a hospital, suffering from malnutrition.
Then began the job of survival in a strange land with which her own country was at war, as unfavorable a situation as one is likely to imagine. First she set out to learn some Japanese. Then she secured a job with the Domei News Agency (Japan's equivalent to the big national news-gathering enterprises such as Reuters) but apparently was too pro-American for her associates. She soon left there, taking part-time work as a typist with the Danish Legation and Radio Tokyo.
The latter place turned out to be a fateful one. There she came to the attention of an Australian prisoner of war. Major Charles E. Cousens. Cousens, along with an American of similar status. Major Wallace G. Ince, and Norman Reyes, a lieutenant in the Filipino army, all experienced broadcasters, were in charge of a POW-oriented program over Radio Tokyo, which became popularly known under the title Zero Hour. It was broadcast mainly by English-speaking women announcers, who accompanied the programs with casual chitchat virtually devoid of politics or propaganda, though there were other women who did read news and commentary on the war on several different programs. There was in the Zero Hour scripts, prepared under the direction of and mostly by the above-mentioned men, a theme which vaguely accented home and the comforts of noncombatant life. This could be and was construed as an effort to undermine the morale of Americans fighting a long distance from home in a very strange environment. It was originally the backbone of the Government's case against Iva Toguri that she had broadcast this kind of material, not that she had made political propaganda in behalf of Imperial Japan. It might be mentioned, however, that in a Pennsylvania State University history thesis by Rose Maria Fazio which sought to estimate the effects of these broadcasts during the war, 93 percent of the ex-servicemen who were sent questionnaires responded that hearing these broadcasts had no demoralizing effect on them.
Iva Toguri encountered Major Cousens for the first time in November 1943, a full year after Allied soldiers in the Pacific had started calling Radio Tokyo women announcers "Tokyo Rose." Cousens declared he selected her because she had demonstrated sympathy with POWs, and had secretly obtained food, clothing, and blankets for them. She was coached and helped on a voice test, and soon joined the team of women on the air with Zero Hour, at a time when the Pacific war was already two years old.
The events of the period of her employment are not clear, and were made much muddier by the continuous contradictions voiced by a stream of witnesses during the 1949 trial. Some of this will be examined in the context of the trial. At this point we can proceed to the end of the war and reconstruct the time span from the late summer of 1945 to the spring of 1949.
THE PURSUIT OF "TOKYO ROSE" By 1945 Iva Toguri had acquired, theoretically, another nationality, through marriage to a Portuguese national, Felipe D'Aquino, and will hereafter be referred to by her married name. She was treated by American authorities as a U.S. national, however. The army occupation forces arrested her in Yokohama early in September 1945 and jailed her for six months, then gave her an unconditional clearance of treason charges. A separate Department of Justice investigation of her on the same suspicion then resulted in a second detention, followed again by clearance and release. The government dropped the case on October 21, 1946, on the grounds that, the appellation "Tokyo Rose" being a composite, it was impossible to isolate any such individual.
But during these periods of imprisonment she was never allowed counsel, and her husband was allowed to visit her a grand total of 20minutes a month. In the meantime, after originally being held incommunicado, she was treated as a circus freak, subjected to involuntary visits from all manner of people, even American Congressmen, and even while she was bathing, in order that these gawking bumpkins might have a glimpse of the woman alleged to be the notorious "Tokyo Rose."
On December 3, 1948, the FBI announced it was searching for witnesses against Mrs. D'Aquino, but she was not rearrested, as ordered by the Justice Department, until August 16, 1948, under circumstances which suggest that her exploitation for headlines was principally to blame. The trying of Iva Toguri D'Aquino in the newspapers and via opinion generated by radio bawlers was to proceed for over a year before legal proceedings actually took place. This should have had professional liberal civil rights watchdogs baying around the clock, but these vigilant protectors of the legal prerogatives of hardened criminals. Communists, and related ideologues were strangely silent. Nor were their legions of journalist allies any more watchful of the sacred "civil rights and constitutional liberties" of a fellow American-born citizen, who was still unproven of having done anything, to anyone, anywhere.
Segments of the opulent establishment press convicted her nearly a year before her trial began. The scurrilous lead national affairs article in Time on August 30, 1948, flatly called her a "traitor," scoffed at her story of why she went to Japan in 1941, while implying that her treasonous motivation antedated the war. But this vicious attack concealed as "news" admitted that she had been just one of more than a half dozen English-speaking Japanese girls on Radio Tokyo, and that there was no evidence that American servicemen had been disturbed by the "Tokyo Rose" broadcasts. (A poll of veterans in 1948 might have revealed that "Tokyo Rose," in toto, had far more admirers among their ranks than detractors.)
Some sectors of the American press devoted to the welfare of Alger Hiss used the reopening of the "Tokyo Rose" case as a welcome relief and diversion from their chores involved in defense of the former, whose investigation before Congress was at a full peak at that moment. Many socially and financially prominent superliberals were undergoing bloody sweats in behalf of Hiss, probably their most dearly loved pet protege in this century. A penniless and nearly friendless girl of Japanese ancestry made an easy punching bag.
Clark Lee (INS) and Harry T. Brundidge (Hearst Cosmopolitan), two of the most mischievous headline hunters that the newspaper world loosed on Japan at the end of hostilities, were significant contributors to her dolors. (One should not miss the blistering review of Lee's memoirs—One Last Look Around—by Capt. P.J. Searles, in the New York Herald Tribune Weekly Book Review, June 8, 1947). The claim of Brundidge and Lee that they had a "confession" from Mrs. D'Aquino made to them at war's end was a prime item in the scurrying around that preceded the reopening of her case. The ominous part these reporters played in the proceedings will be examined later.
The other main cause of her rearrest was the ineffable Walter Winchell, who broadcast to the land through nearly a thousand radio stations that she had been released by American authorities in Japan (which was hardly news) after he heard a belated complaint about this from a woman whose son had been killed in the Pacific fighting. What the loss of this woman's son had do do with the status of Mrs. D'Aquino is an utter mystery, but it provides an example of the scope of the perpetuation of wartime vindictiveness. And it provided Winchell, with his obnoxious peephole sensationalist modus operandi, another opportunity to elevate nothing into something.
Under the impact of such trashy bus station and supermarket "literary" gossip-mongering and exacerbation of wartime hatreds the whole sorry process of "Tokyo Rose" was again dragged across the nation's consciousness. The combination of the Brundidge-Lee and Winchell effusions (plus that of Kate Smith), in addition to Brundidge's "cooperation" with the Justice Department, led to the reopening of the case by Attorney General Tom C. Clark (father of Ramsey Clark, of recent Hanoi fame). Attorney General Clark ordered her rearrest by the U.S. Army occupiers in Tokyo and her transport to San Francisco.
THE TRIAL BEGINS On October 8, 1948, a Federal grand jury indictment for treason (during which irregularities took place that should have caused its dismissal) led to a decision on the part of the government to prosecute. Iva Toguri D'Aquino was front page news again. At first the grand jury refused to indict unless the officers under whom she had worked, and whose scripts she had read, were also indicted. They settled for the single indictment when informed that they had no authority to indict military officers; the latter could only be court- martialed. (Cousens, tried in Australia, was acquitted of treason charges and promoted. In the United States, Ince was similarly promoted, and, as Phil Jordan, one of the most knowledgable students of the case, observed tartly, "with no nonsense about a court martial.")
First scheduled for May 16, 1949, in Federal Court in San Francisco, the trial did not get under way until July 5, Judge Michael J. Roche presiding. The jury consisted of six men and six women, all white Californians, selected in just two hours. Stanton Delaplane, covering the event for the San Francisco Chronicle, called special attention (in the July 5 issue) to the prosecution's eliminating all non-Caucasian potential jurors, employing eight of its peremptory challenges to eliminate six blacks, a Chinese-American, and another person of mixed ethnic origins. Others also gave this unusual government tactic close scrutiny, and during the trial and long after there were charges of intentional racism, heatedly denied by government spokesmen. But it could not be missed by many that an all-white jury was trying a Japanese-American in a state long known for its Japanophobic outrages and persisting psychology and sentiment, gravely inflamed by the recently concluded war. (It might be pointed out that the government subsequently segregated its witnesses, the Caucasians in one room and the Japanese in another, while they waited to testify.)
The prosecution was headed by Thomas De Wolfe, special assistant to Attorney General Clark, assisted by U.S. attorneys Frank J. Hennessey and John B. Hogan. De Wolfe was a specialist in treason trials, having already acted in the successful prosecution of American journalists Robert H. Best and Douglas Chandler, convicted for making wartime broadcasts from Germany.
Defense counsel was headed by Wayne M. Collins, aided by Theodore Tamba and George Olshausen, San Francisco attorneys, who served the defendant without pay. The performance of Collins in particular caused the prosecution many unhappy and uneasy days. He achieved such success in cross-examination of prosecution witnesses that there were few observers who believed the government had a case by the time it went to the jury.
By the time the trial began Mrs. D'Aquino, following her arrest in Tokyo on August 25, 1948, had been in jail or its equivalent another year. (It was unfortunate that an NEA telephoto was published in the daily newspapers all over the land in the early days of the trial showing Mrs. D'Aquino being escorted into the courtroom by a government policeman under appearances which suggested she was almost being dragged, though it would seem that it was due to being shot at a bad angle; however, the malicious may have preferred to view it on the obvious superficial merits.)
COURTROOM IRREGULARITIES Some poorly explained things transpired during the "Tokyo Rose" trial. The first was the judge's denial of a defense motion to subpoena 34 witnesses in Japan, including even General Douglas MacArthur, the veritable American proconsul whose prestige and status rivalled anything ever achieved by Caesar in the Roman Empire. The court allowed the collection of depositions from witnesses in Japan, but the posting of pieces of paper could never match in drama and effect a live witness, no matter how informational the deposition, and no matter how dull, obtuse, or mendacious the witness.
The government, on the other hand, utilized witnesses brought in from Germany and Japan, including 19 Japanese citizens who were flown in first class from Tokyo (at a cost of $23,000) and were paid $10 a day for the duration of the trial, which exceeded 12 weeks. It was the testimony of two of these Japanese nationals, unsupported by an American citizen, which led to the conviction of Mrs. D'Aquino on a single count of treason.
Ultimately the government, which rejected defense efforts to bring in witnesses from Japan on the grounds that it did not have the money to pay for this, spared little expense in its own behalf, spending upwards of three-fourths of a million dollars to send Iva Toguri D'Aquino to jail. In addition, it undoubtedly went well beyond the million dollar mark in keeping her in jail for 74 months and paying for the multifarious bureaucratic maneuvers and capers which have been engaged in for over a quarter of a century in its ferocious offensive against a solitary citizen.
The defense was guilty of one serious lapse, as attorney Tamba was to recall later, in failing to realize that Maj. Gen. Charles A. Willoughby was right in San Francisco, based at the Presidio, at the time of the trial. General Willoughby was chief of intelligence for the U.S. occupation forces in Japan in 1945-46, and supervised the Defense Department investigation which had dismissed treason charges against Iva Toguri D'Aquino at that time. He might have been a formidable witness for the defense, if not the deciding factor in the trial.
The government prosecution started out anxious to prove that she had volunteered to broadcast on Radio Tokyo and that she had committed treasonous acts. On the first day a former serviceman witness testified that he had gotten her autograph in 1945. But the fireworks did not commence until the second day, when Yukio Ikeda, wartime personnel director of Radio Tokyo, and Shigetsugu Tsuneishi, who directed the POW broadcasts on Zero Hour, testified for the prosecution. The latter asserted that no POWs were forced to broadcast proJapanese propaganda. But under cross-examination Tsuneishi expressed doubt that the "Tokyo Rose" broadcast amounted to anything effective in the propaganda field anyway, and further supported the accused by admitting she had been under duress to broadcast on the famed program. This particular ploy turned out to be one which went on all during the trial. The prosecution's attempt to show that the defendant had not acted under duress, and the countering of the defense to demonstrate that she had, proved unfruitful, as the witnesses were hopelessly contradictory on that subject, and on most others as well, all during the trial.
Clark Lee, testifying on July 14, followed Tsuneishi, who was on the stand four days. Lee made some headway for the prosecution when he recounted things which allegedly had been said to him in his 1945 interview with the defendant. It was also his testimony, and that of one Leslie Nakashima, which disclosed the sinister sensationalism of the former's colleague, Brundidge. Lee and Brundidge came into Tokyo on the heels of the occupying U.S. Marines, and immediately smelled a journalistic coup in the making if they could be the first to locate and interview the universally discussed "Tokyo Rose."
They soon found out that there were several possible candidates here, and it was purely coincidental that they ended up with Iva Toguri D'Aquino. Seeking help from Nakashima, a Domei employee, they got none. But Nakashima went to Radio Tokyo and consulted John Kenkichi Oki, production supervisor of the Zero Hour. Nakashima, testifying early in the first week of September, declared that Oki told him there was no such person as "Tokyo Rose," that there were several women who had been on Radio Tokyo record shows, and then for some unknown reason gave him Mrs. D'Aquino's name.
Unabashed by these complications, Lee asked Nakashima to find her for him and Brundidge, and to offer her $2,000 for a story in which she would admit that she was the "Tokyo Rose." It was never made clear whether she got any money, but these two opportunist reporters got a five-hour interview with her, and Lee clung to his earlier declaration that she had admitted what they had tried to get her to say. Under cross-examination Lee admitted that they had omitted from their story everything that might have been in her favor.
The singular aspect of this little discourse was that Brundidge, who was listed as a witness by the prosecution, was never called to testify, nor was he subpoenaed by the defense as a possible hostile witness. But he did not emerge from the legal scuffle untarnished. Since he had gone to Japan after the war to gather evidence for the prosecution, the defense argued that he was a government agent at least in part. And he was deeply involved in allegations and testimony that he had bribed or sought to bribe at least two people to testify against Mrs. D'Aquino at the grand jury proceedings. Along with the Yagi case, to be mentioned later, was a deposition from Japan by an Associated Press reporter, Toshikatsu Kodairi, that Brundidge also tried to bribe him to testify falsely against the defendant. (In conclusion, ironically, Brundidge's employer had ultimately refused to print his laboriously obtained and fanciful narrative.)
THE PROSECUTION'S "EVIDENCE" The most damaging witnesses against Mrs. D'Aquino, however, proved to be Oki, and his associate, George Mitsushio, chief of the "Front Line" section of Radio Tokyo which produced Zero Hour. Testifying during the third week of July, both men stubbornly stuck to a declaration that they had seen or heard her broadcasting the false news report concerning the alleged American naval losses in the Leyte Gulf battle in October 1944, of which more will be said later. This was No. VI of the indictment, the only part on which she was convicted.
These two witnesses deserve extra attention. Oki, born in Sacramento, had played football at New York University and was married to one of the female broadcasters on Radio Tokyo, known during the war as the "Saturday night party girl." Mitsushio, born in San Francisco, had gone to Japan in the years before the war, like Oki. Both subsequently renounced their U.S. citizenship. It was an additional touch of irony that it was to be their testimony that brought about the conviction of a Japanese- American who did not renounce her U.S. citizenship.
Undoubtedly both were under tremendous pressure to testify the way the prosecution wished, and were surely subject at least to psychic intimidation by FBI investigators, since they could have been rung in on treason charges themselves through a little expert rigging. Their dogged maintenance that the fateful newscast had been uttered by the defendant made defense counsel suspicious. Collins pounded Mitsushio especially, drawing an admission that the latter had memorized the indictment. At one time he supported seven of the eight counts thereon, but ultimately fell back on No. VI, which position he did not desert.
Mitsushio's mechanical repetition of the legalese of the indictment led to additional questioning from Collins, and eventually drew from him the admission that he had received a copy from the prosecutor, De Wolfe, two weeks before testifying, and that he had kept it until three days before taking the stand. The men further undermined each other's credibility by giving contradictory testimony as to the ultimate purpose of the Zero Hour program, on which subject they were the experts. But the damage had been done.
The performance of Mitsushio in particular smacked of witness-coaching, and other performances on the stand reinforced this defense contention. Shinjiro Igarashi, a Radio Tokyo broadcaster who testified in the sixth week of the trial, had previously told defense counsel on April 22, 1949, in Japan that Mrs. D'Aquino had never made any statement on the air concerning alleged American naval sinkings at Leyte Gulf. But on the stand in San Francisco he reversed his statement. When challenged on this by Collins, Igarshi replied, "At that time my memory was confused," to which Collins countered in cutting words, "And now it's much better, isn't it?" Harris Sugiyama, another prosecution witness, also admitted that his memory had been "refreshed" since he had arrived in San Francisco to testify.
An interesting footnote was later added to the story of Oki and Mitsushio. Jordan, who along with retired U.S. Army Col. John Juji Hada, is probably the best informed man alive on the ramifications of the "Tokyo Rose" affair, related in the Pacific Citizen (December 21-28, 1973)that attorney Tamba had once told him of being approached during a noon recess by a witness brought to the court from Japan, but who was never allowed to testify, one Seizu Huga. Huga told Tamba that the two men testifying to the alleged treasonable act by Mrs. D'Aquino were lying, and that if called to the stand and cross-examined, he would say so, and present evidence in support of his charge which would make the prosecution's case collapse. But Huga never made the stand; he was sent back to Japan a few hours after being seen talking to Tamba.
From then on it was downhill for prosecutor De Wolfe. His witnesses tended to go from bad to worse under cross-examination by Collins, especially when the government started calling Americans. Dale Kramer, a 1945 reporter for the service magazine Yank, testified that Mrs. D'Aquino did not use the name "Tokyo Rose" (but then, neither did anyone else). He did cite a script in which she called herself "Orphan Ann" (Cousens later explained that the "Ann" was short for "announcer," and that the remainder was related to the popular song about this popular American comic strip in the daily newspapers.)
Particularly damaging to the prosecution's case was an FBI agent named Frederick Tillman, who, though a prosecution witness, told the court that the defendant had told him that she construed her purpose on Zero Hour to be one of making the program entertaining while reducing its effectiveness as propaganda. He further testified under cross-examination to the frantic efforts Mrs. D'Aquino had made to try to get back to the U.S. before the war broke out, information contained in the 12-page statement she had made for him in Sugamo Prison on April 30, 1946, prior to her second release by American authorities.
The bomb, however, was dropped by Tillman under cross-examination when he admitted that Hiromu Yagi, a Japan Travel Bureau agent and a government witness, had confessed to him that he was bribed to testify falsely against Mrs. D'Aquino before the grand jury which indicted her. (Even the New York Times published this sensational material, July 28, 1949, p. 4.)
"TREASONOUS" ACTS The day before this damaging admission by Tillman, the prosecution had put on the stand two counterintelligence agents, one of them Maj. James T. Reitz, who had been a captain in the CIC in Tokyo in September 1945, but who had to be brought to San Francisco from his new assignment in Germany. Major Reitz identified a package of radio scripts which had been turned over to him by Sgt. Merritt Page, also of the CIC, in Tokyo. And Page, now employed with the Veterans' Administration in Pittsburgh, followed Reitz to the stand and declared that the scripts had been given to him by Mrs. D'Aquino in the Grand Hotel in Tokyo, at which time Page said she had told him that she did not believe she had done anything treasonous.
The proceedings here were not very supportive of the prosecution either, since it would have been strange behavior on the part of anyone believing themselves to be traitorous to volunteer the evidence upon which such a verdict might be secured. This would be self-incrimination of the most suspicious sort. The counterintelligence sleuths were also helping out the defense.
A third witness that same day (July 26), another former reporter for Yank, James J. Keeney, supported the previous testimony of his colleague Kramer, declaring that the defendant had also confirmed to him the part of the Australian POW, Cousens, in getting her the job on Zero Hour. And under cross-examination by Collins, Keeney stated that Mrs. D'Aquino had denied that she ever broadcast to American servicemen that their wives and sweethearts were "going out with other men." (That they had done so could have been established on a grand scale; therefore, if Mrs. D'Aquino had made such a statement, how she could have been considered traitorous for simply reporting a common social fact of wartime American life is truly a mystery.)
Probably the most persuasive of the defense tactics was to emphasize that the government was trying to prove that the defendant was each of the several women broadcasters on Radio Tokyo during World War II, and was not interested in learning who they all were. The defense maintained Mrs. D'Aquino was a victim of mistaken identity, and being blamed for the words of others. There is no doubt that the testimony by the defendant and others—that there were several other women involved in the Zero Hour broadcasting, whom careless or malicious people had lumped together as a single person—had something to do with the change in approach by the prosecution. (The composite nature of "Tokyo Rose" had been generally admitted as far back as when Iva Toguri D'Aquino had originally been apprehended—see New York Times, September 1 and 6, 1945; October 22, 1946.)
Defense counsel made hash out of the prosecution's witnesses who testified to hearing Mrs. D'Aquino while stationed at widely separated geographical locations. Radio Tokyo had 20 transmitters, broadcasting from several places in Japan, and at the height of Japanese expansion in the South Pacific had some 200 radio outlets, covering parts of four time zones. Further complications grew out of the testimony of radio expert Kiwamu Monotauka, who stated that a number of broadcasts were made, at the same time and on the same frequencies, from Tokyo and from transmitters located in other Far East cities, so it was possible to hear a number of women on the air at the same time.
Collins encouraged ex-servicemen to state categorically having heard Mrs. D'Aquino at a specific hour, and then would demonstrate that they had been located at a spot from one to three hours off from Tokyo time, and therefore could not possibly have heard the defendant, since it had been established that her stint on Radio Tokyo was always at the same hour.
Later defense witnesses, short wave listeners, known in reportorial shorthand as "SWLs," added much expert testimony on the complicated Japanese radio scene in the Pacific. It was one Gustav C. Gallagher of San Francisco, an indefatigable eavesdropper on Japanese broadcasts during the whole war, who estimated Radio Tokyo outlets to be at least 200, while another, one May Hagedorn of Everett, Washington, declared that she had heard at least six different women broadcasting news from Tokyo, as well as other women announcers on Japanese radio from Manila, Java, and Saigon. Jordan has concluded that "There may have been as many as two dozen 'Tokyo Roses' broadcasting during the war," including several who had been born in the U.S. Like many other people, he has been puzzled as to why only one of them was ever tried.
A side issue of this line of investigation sank in importance as the complex picture of Japanese radio was exposed to view. There had been much said in earlier months of 340 broadcasts which had been done at Radio Tokyo and transcribed onto discs (but only one of which was a complete Zero Hour broadcast), and which were in the hands of the government at one time in the investigation of Mrs. D'Aquino. By this stage of the trial only 13 were left. Where were the others, which had figured so prominently in the early bombast? Somehow or other they had been subject to "routine" destruction, the authorities explained. Tamba maintained, however, that these recordings had never been destroyed, but actually were stored right there in San Francisco at the army base in the Presidio. He entertained the suspicion that the recordings were suppressed by the government and provided evidence which would in fact prove the defendant innocent.
The jurors were excused on July 29 while the judge, attorneys, reporters, and the defendant spent the day listening to the remaining discs (by now the total had been reduced to six), those reputedly done by "Orphan Ann," whose voice Mrs. D'Aquino already admitted was hers. Two other witnesses asserted that the voices were the same, which did not prove anything, since it was now a substantive matter: what had she said?
Mrs. D'Aquino became ill and the trial was recessed from August 4 to August 8. Thereafter another Japanese witness, Satoshi Nakamura, master of ceremonies on Zero Hour, took the stand, and while testifying that the defendant had not been coerced to broadcast under the name "Orphan Ann," challenged the veracity of a succession of previous prosecution witnesses, denying she had ever uttered any of the 14 inflammatory remarks on the program which they had attributed to her. This performance characterized the sustained series of contradictory confrontations heard all during the trial. Nakamura further testified that Mrs. D'Aquino had been employed entirely in simple disc jockey work, introducing recordings and the like, and had not read news or political commentary.
De Wolfe summed up the government's contentions thereafter and on August 12 rested his case. Judge Roche denied a defense motion for acquittal argued by associate defense counsel Olshausen on August 11, and the trial resumed with the defense introducing its witnesses.
THE DEFENSE TAKES OVER The seventh week of the trial was the dramatic and emotional high point. Preceded by a 40-minute opening statement to the jury by Tamba, the defense put on the stand Cousens and then Ince. Cousens, a radio announcer in Sydney, Australia by now, came to the defense of Mrs. D'Aquino in an earnest manner, and both he and Ince denied in toto the series of "morale-damaging" statements attributed to her by previous prosecution witnesses.
Ince, corroborating Cousens' stand, reiterated his distrust of all Japanese connected with the Zero Hour show, whether native or U.S.-born, resulting in his not allowing any information of any significance to get in their hands. Cousens was on the stand a long time, but despite De Wolfe's persistence stuck to his blanket denial that she had said any of the things the prosecution alleged.
The government had a little better luck with Reyes, the remaining member of the Zero Hour trio, who testified for four days in the eighth week of the trial. Reyes was now a student at Vanderbilt University. De Wolfe, who treated Reyes in a shabby and contemptuous way, succeeded in pointing out that in statements he had given the FBI in October 1948, he had contradicted in part what Cousens and Ince said previously. But Reyes insisted that he had been intimidated into signing these statements after 20 hours of questioning in four separate sessions. Reyes further observed that while being questioned he could see the dimensions of the case being built against Mrs. D'Aquino, and thought that, if established, he could be subjected to a similar trial if returned to the Philippines. He further asserted while on the stand that FBI interrogators had threatened to turn him over to Philippine counterintelligence.
There was a succession of other defense witnesses, including one J.F. Whitten who testified that he had heard "Tokyo Rose" in 1942, long before the employment of Mrs. D'Aquino, and the defendant's husband, Felipe D'Aquino, who declared that she had made public statements in Japan predicting Japanese defeat, or had lauded an American victory. Then Mrs. D'Aquino took the stand herself September 7, 8, and 9. On these three days she repeated many of the facts appearing at the start of this account, again denying ever making political commentary. She called attention once more to the other female announcers on Radio Tokyo, while restating her record of friendly and helpful association with the various prisoners of war.
Just prior to her testimony, depositions by persons in Japan were introduced, one from the defendant's landlady, Mrs. Funane Kido, which quoted Mrs. D'Aquino saying "Japan hasn't a chance in the world of winning the war" (the defendant lived with Mrs. Kido from October 1944, to September 1945), while one Ken Murayama declared that the scripts which "sought to create homesickness among Allied troops" had been written by him for one Myrtle Liston, a Philippine national, who had been known as "Manila Rose."
Nevertheless, the prosecutor, De Wolfe, was described in an Associated Press story on September 14 as having subjected Mrs. D'Aquino to a "hammering crossfire,"which went on for three days, seeking by this pounding to get her to admit that she had been employed to make American servicemen in the Pacific homesick. But he failed to get her to admit anything.
CROWNING IRREGULARITY The defense made its final argument on September 21; the government's summation was completed on September 23. The jury was charged and began its deliberations, and after four days, on the evening of September 29, the Associated Press reported that "a somewhat reluctant Federal court jury" had found Iva Toguri D'Aquino guilty of treason on a single one of the eight counts. The jury foreman, John W. Mann of Oakland, was quoted as saying that the jury would have liked to acquit the defendant, but "we did the only thing we thought possible under the judge's instructions." To critics of the trial, these instructions were simply the crowning irregularity in a trial which blossomed with irregularities.
A private poll of the reporters covering the trial had resulted in a 9 to 1 vote for acquittal. When told this, Mann replied that the jury was of about the same sentiment. At one time it had only one person for conviction; at another, the vote stood 10 to 2 for acquittal. The jury had been harangued for nearly two hours by the judge prior to the commencement of its deliberations, and kept coming back for copies of the transcript of the testimony of Oki, Mitsushio, and Clark Lee. After the third return of the jury. Judge Roche lectured them on the necessity of coming to a verdict, stressing the cost of the trial, and the economic consequences to the government of an inconclusive result, with vague overtones to the effect that it was their "patriotic duty," as some editorial commentators subsequently put it.
As a consequence of this set of instructions from the bench, what should have been at worst a hung jury was turned into a conviction. When Jordan observed that Judge Roche had been "little credit to the Federal bench," there were students of the proceedings who thought that he had uttered the understatement of the last quarter of a century.
And it was on the grounds that this amended set of instructions to the jury had been prejudicial that attorney Collins announced the conviction would be appealed to the Ninth District Court. A testy and spirited fighter, Collins stated flatly that the trial had "resulted in more instances of reversible error than any other trial in American judicial history." The appeals court, however, ignored the cumulative effect of the errors cited, maintaining that no single one which was admitted to have taken place was sufficiently serious to warrant a reversal of the verdict.
So ended the longest and most expensive treason trial in U.S. history at that time, lasting over 12 weeks, totalling 56 courtroom days, and 40 hours of deliberation by the jury covering a period of four days. During the trial the prosecution had called up 46 witnesses, the defense, 25, and depositions had been filed from 19 witnesses who remained in Japan.
On October 1 the Alameda (California's) Times Star editorially called for a new trial, on the grounds that the exclusion of nonwhites from the jury and the judge's pressure on the jury to come to a verdict were prejudicial. The logic of Judge Roche's position, it appeared to them, was that there was a price tag on justice.
Hada, who resumed his education after retiring from the Army, submitted a master's degree thesis to the history faculty at the University of San Francisco in May 1973 titled "The Indictment and Trial of Iva Ikuko Toguri D'Aquino—Tokyo Rose." It was 200 pages in length with appendices totalling another 200, and Hada concluded that the case had been "studded with bribery, perjury, kidnaping, unlawful imprisonment, destruction of records," and that the defendant was "a casualty of our judicial system which failed to protect her fundamental rights."
It was fitting that the "Tokyo Rose" trial should terminate a short while after Owen Cunningham, a Des Moines lawyer who had served as defense counsel to the Japanese ambassador to Germany, Oechima, in one of the lamentable "war crimes" trials, told a Lincoln, Nebraska Bar Association audience that Oechima's trial had been a "comedy of errors."
THE DAMNING EVIDENCE The striking thing about the vast efforts and expenditures of the prosecution was the miserable tidbit of material it used to send Mrs. D'Aquino to jail for 10 years and fine her $10,000. Its vainglorious brandishing of 340 recordings, deflated to 18, then to 13, to 8, and finally to 6, was then pinched down to a mere 25 words allegedly uttered on a single one! This ridiculous progression downward indicates the malicious zeal of the prosecution and the frantic clutching at anything to justify its sensational charges.
The words which were ultimately decided to be "treasonous" consisted of the following, spoken after the naval battle of Leyte Gulf in October 1944:
"Now you fellows have lost all your ships. You are really orphans of the Pacific. How do you think you are going to get home?"
And it was on the say-so of Japanese nationals Oki and Mitsushio that they were credited to Mrs. D'Aquino. No one thought it strange that not a single U.S. citizen had presented evidence of treason that the court would accept.
In view of the outpourings of procommunist billingsgate issued by Americans from Hanoi during the Vietnam war which hardly drew a rebuke, what was used to send Iva Toguri D'Aquino to jail under heavy fine was a laughable travesty. (And for the government to maintain, and for any member of the jury to believe, that any American would take credence in a news broadcast to the effect that their entire fleet had been sunk was a towering insult to the intelligence of even the least gifted member of the entire American armed forces.) But in this manner was the government's brontosaurus reduced to the size of a gnat.
Prosecutor De Wolfe's smug dictum that the jury's verdict was "a just one for the United States" contained an overtone of panic. Obviously, there were people of high political rank who wanted this woman convicted, even on the flimsiest evidence, which turned out to be the case. That a jury should consider the 25 words on which their decision hinged "sufficiently damaging to American morale to constitute treason" was a rationalization of the weakest and most pathetic kind.
Why the government was so anxious to convict Mrs. D'Aquino is still puzzling, however. It might be laid to the motive of indulging in additional vengeance against a defeated enemy, which surely was behind most of the preposterous "war crimes" trials. But Mrs. D'Aquino was a native-born American, which the prosecution spent much time firmly planting on the record. The reasons for the persistent harrassment and repeated jailings of this woman, until a long and expensive trial could be engineered to lodge her in a cell even longer, may take much time to unravel.
FRUITLESS APPEALS Attorney Collins denounced Mrs. D'Aquino's conviction as "absolutely erroneous—unsupportable by any credible testimony." His efforts to undo this lamentable proceedings began immediately, and, to the surprise of many, his labors to gain for his client a full presidential pardon continued until his death on July 16, 1974. A reporter, interviewing him, his colleague Tamba (who preceded him in death, in December 1973), and Mrs. D'Aquino in San Francisco in the summer of 1973, related that her lawyers continue to stand by her after 23 years, and insist that she is innocent of treason. Moreover, they charge that she was and is the victim of public hysteria, racial discrimination, and political vengeance by postwar American officials. "Without any question," said Collins angrily, "she should be pardoned and compensated by Congress."
It was expected that the court would deny defense motions for a new trial. Following the sentencing, an appeal was filed and Mrs. D'Aquino's release on bail was sought. Federal District Court denied bail shortly after the appeal was filed. (Only convicted Stalinist spies such as Judith Coplon seemed to deserve release on bail.) Mrs. D'Aquino's sentence began November 3, 1949, and she was transferred from San Francisco on November 15 to start her prison term in the facility at Alderson, West Virginia.
"Judicial processes do not take place in a social void," cautioned Professor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., in his introduction to Joughin's and Morgan's The Legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti. But at the time he wrote that, he and legions of his fellow liberals were part of a dominant climate of opinion which reflected little more than smug self-satisfaction at what was happening to Iva Toguri D'Aquino, for to protest on their part would have cast a shadow on a portion of the propaganda of what had been acclaimed boastfully by Stanley High as "The Liberals' War."
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, in February 1950, conceded that the issue of whether Mrs. D'Aquino had had a fair trial and been the beneficiary of proper legal guarantees was a debatable one, but in general the legal establishment supported the outcome of the 1949 trial. Mrs. D'Aquino appealed her conviction in September of that year, and the appeal was argued in March 1951. A U.S. Circuit Court upheld her conviction on October 10, 1951. When she asked the appeals court to reconsider her appeal rejection, a rehearing was denied December 17. When the case was taken to the Supreme Court, the appeal was rejected April 28, 1952, and on April 6, 1953, the Supreme Court barred any further review of the case.
TRAITOR OR ALIEN? But the matter was not ended, nor were the travails of Mrs. D'Aquino over. On January 28, 1956, she was freed from Federal prison after serving more than six years of her original sentence. Justice Department officials literally met her on the steps of the prison and forced her to sign an alien registration card, informing her that she would be deported as an undesirable alien. (Only then did the American Civil Liberties Union begin to get into the act.) There was a basic contradiction here: an alien cannot be tried for treason, and a native-born American cannot be deported. The government wanted to scramble these: for the purposes of the treason trial, the prosecution had been tireless in its concentration on her U.S. citizenship, but after her conviction wished to view her as a deportable alien.
Now the Immigration Service appeared on the scene, announcing their decision to try to have her deported, though they admitted having no precedent for denaturalizing and deporting a native-born citizen. There was a law passed in 1940 which stipulated that a U.S. national, whether by birth or naturalization, would be deprived of American nationality upon conviction for treason, but the geniuses who put this together did not make clear how a native-born person could be deported anywhere. Mrs. D'Aquino had not come from Japan. If she was to be sent there, then the Immigration Service was apparently going to invoke an ethnic clause of their own invention, which would imply immense consequences for the future.
The press was miffed that she showed "no repentance" upon release from prison, and reporters were not charmed by her pluck in her announced decision to fight deportation. She was now living in Chicago, and government authorities restricted her movement to a 50-mile radius of that city. By now there were people in the country who thought the government was rubbing things in and demonstrating malice beyond normal expectations. An American Legion post in Springfield, Ohio, a most unlikely source of support, even urged the President, now Mr. Eisenhower, to pardon her. A month later the immigration authorities ordered her to leave the United States voluntarily within a month or face deportation, again not too sure where she could be sent.
Then the ice floe began to melt a bit. The following month, April 12, 1956, she was permitted to move to San Francisco again, where her deportation hearing was supposed to begin on April 26. But the hearing never took place. The matter dragged on and on for over two years, the government finally dropping the deportation efforts on July 10, 1958.
But the threat of it being reopened remains. And if Mrs. D'Aquino were to leave the country voluntarily, there exists the possibility that she would not be allowed to return. The Federal bureaucracy still houses people who are embarrassed by the continuation of this case. And the venom has abated little in some circles 25 years after the trial. In an interview in the summer of 1973 published in the Christian Science Monitor, Mrs. D'Aquino remarked, "Everytime the case is recalled in the papers, I seem to hear from every maniac in the country—everything from marriage proposals to death threats."
Meanwhile, the pursuit of Iva Toguri D'Aquino has continued through six consecutive presidential administrations. Though the zealous government watchdogs who are supposed to save us from crime fail to apprehend thousands of murderers, and flagrant Mafia and syndicate goons and mobsters successfully evade prosecution and make off with billions, the former still have the energy, manpower, and resources to continue to vex and torment the principal in this sorry account. As late as the closing weeks of 1972, agents of the Nixon regime were busily at work attaching her wages to collect $5,255 she still owed as a result of the fine assessed against her in the summer of 1949. Her request for a hearing as a preliminary to getting Federal authorities to stop this continued looting of her income at the source was denied by an imperious panel of Federal judges in Chicago on November 15, 1972. It should be pointed out that deliberately neglecting to pay the fine in full was a defense counsel's tactic with which the defendant cooperated, solely for the objective of keeping the case open, which, incidentally, still happens to be the situation, as of the end of the summer of 1975.
The "Tokyo Rose" case, like all treason cases, is as much political as it is legal. It is one more illustration that the word "treason" is far more a political term than it is anything else, and is always subjectively defined and applied by whatever power element happens to be in control of the machinery of the State. In all cases they seek to interpret "treason" in harmony with their own interests while trying to conceal it all behind the majestic spook of "national interest." Looking back at the "Tokyo Rose" proceedings from the vantage point of a generation, it is obvious why the entire affair has become, in the minds of an increasing number, a circumstance in which, (1) the trial was a lamentable succession of events which cumulatively amounted to a glaring miscarriage of justice, and, (2) the whole proceedings of the government, beginning even before the grand jury indictment, was primarily a glittering press agent's spectacle aimed at trying the personification of a World War II soldier's legend, not a person with civil and constitutional rights, and was therefore little more than a grandiose technical frameup.
James J. Martin received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. A leading revisionist historian, his books include the classic Men Against the State, American Liberalism and World Politics, and Revisionist Viewpoints. He is currently at work on a book dealing with U.S.-Soviet relations during World War II.