The Struggle to Clear Ones Name

January 19, 1977 – President Gerald Ford pardons Iva Toguri, better known as Tokyo Rose.  Born in Los Angeles, Toguri graduated from UCLA and had hoped to become a doctor.  Her parents were Japanese but she spoke no Japanese and disliked Japanese food.  In 1941 her aunt in Japan became ill and Toguri’s mother asked her to travel to Japan to take care of her aunt.  This she did, but she left the United States without a passport or other proof of citizenship.  She was 25 years old.  When the war broke out she tried to return to the United States but was refused.  The Japanese considered her an enemy alien and refused her request to be interned as foreign national.  Repeated attempts by the Japanese government to have Toguri renounces her American citizenship were unsuccessful.

Eventually Toguri was able to find work at Radio Tokyo as a translator and typist.  Radio Tokyo began a program with young women speaking fluent English broadcasting propaganda and playing sentimental music in an attempt to lower American morale by reminding them that their wives and girlfriends were alone at home.  American GIs called all the women Tokyo Rose.  At the station Iva meets American POWs forced to produce the show and they recruit her to become a broadcaster and work with them and she smuggles food and medicine to them.

After the war, Toguri is tried as a traitor and sentenced to 10 years in prison despite testimony that she had not acted traitorously.  She was released after 6 years and began a 21 year struggle to clear her name and escape the shadow of Tokyo Rose.   In 1977 60 Minutes reports her story and public sentiment grew in her favor.  Just before leaving office, Gerald Ford grants her clemency.  She died in 2006 at age 90.

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Filed under 1970s, Ford, International, Politics

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