CHRISTMAS WITH IVA: A Reminiscence by Miriam Moskowitz
from her book, “Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice”
On September 29, 1949 a federal jury convicted Iva Toguri d’Aquino of a single count of treason for having broadcast Japanese propaganda to American and Allied servicemen during World War II.
Born in America of Japanese immigrant parents and a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, Iva Toguri (later Iva d’Aquino when she married) sailed to Japan in the summer of 1941 to visit a sick relative. By the end of that year she was stranded in Japan when war broke out between that country and the United States and she could not get home.
d’Aquino refused to renounce her citizenship so she was denied a ration card. As a result of near starvation she ended up in a hospital with beriberi and malnutrition. When she recovered somewhat she obtained a job with the Domei News Agency, a Japanese listening post where she typed news from Europe (such as Winston Churchill’s speeches).
She was also ordered to broadcast a radio program on Japan’s “Zero Hour,” which was beamed to American and Allied troops in the Pacific, the scripts for which she had to type. The scripts were created by allied POWs then being held in Japan and with whom she had contact. They consisted of light banter – disc jockey chatter – which contained satirical references or “insider” jokes the Japanese would not understand but Allied combatants would certainly recognize.
Iva testified that she had not composed those scripts; they had been written by the POWs and that she was not anti-American nor was she disloyal to her native country. American soldiers in the Pacific dubbed her “Tokyo Rose” but she was one of several women who made those broadcasts.
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