Monday, April 29, 2013

GIs Favorite Disc Jockey

  Iva Toguri Joins the Chorus of Tokyo Roses



If Major Cousens could have read American newspapers, he would not have fretted about subverting the Japanese propaganda message. In the South Pacific, the several females Allied troops called “Tokyo Rose” were inadvertently foiling their own propaganda messages. A front-page story in the New Castle, Pennsylvania, News on September 17, 1943, ran an article that said Tokyo Rose was so uninformed in her war news announcements that she was actually boosting morale.

Major John Canavan from Dorchester, Massachusetts, and recently returned from Guadalcanal, said that “Rose” could not get her story straight: “She was so wrong that the boys were vastly entertained. They began to look forward to her broadcasts for the laughs.” In the October 5, 1943, Charleston Gazette troops complained about scratchy, out-of-date records. Said one GI who had enjoyed Rose’s broadcasts, “She’s beginning to droop.” These comments were documented more than a month before Toguri’s first broadcast.  On November 13, 1943, Orphan Ann added her voice to the Tokyo Rose chorus.

Typically, Toguri would introduce her music with some teasing remarks that Cousens hoped would entertain Allied troops. “Hello there, Enemies! How’s tricks? This is Ann of Radio Tokyo, and we’re just going to begin our regular program of music, news, and The Zero Hour for our friends—I mean, our enemies! —in Australia and the South Pacific. So be on your guard, and mind the children don’t hear! All set? OK! Here’s the first blow to your morale—the Boston Pops playing ‘Strike Up the Band!” One of Orphan Ann’s ploys was to use the term “boneheads” when referring to Allied troops. Cousens told Ann that this was a teasing term used among troops in jocular conversations. Japanese censors had no way of knowing that the insulting-sounding word was actually Australian slang for “buddy.”

By the time Toguri began her broadcasts on Radio Tokyo the tide of the war had shifted towards the Allies. On May 7 and 8, 1942, the American Navy fought the Japanese to a standstill in the Battle of the Coral Sea. In early June, Japan and the United States fought one of history’s great naval battles—Midway. For three days, six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,  two great armadas battled for control of the Central Pacific.  Fighting was fierce with neither side able to gain an advantage. The conflict swung the American way when two squadrons of American torpedo planes attacked the Japanese carrier force. Faulty torpedoes that would not detonate and lack of fighter support doomed the torpedo squadrons. Out of thirty American planes, only one survived.  But the Japanese were unable to get their carrier planes properly armed to defend against next attack. A wave of American dive bombers struck with devastating accuracy. Four aircraft carriers and one heavy cruiser were destroyed. It was a death blow to the Japanese navy.

Inexorably Allied forces island-hopped their way to their primary objective—the island of Saipan. From Saipan Japan was vulnerable to bomber attacks. In February 1943, after six months of fierce fighting, U. S. Marines secured Guadalcanal and its strategic airfield. While Marines battled eastward, Allied submarines decimated Japanese supply lines. Radio propaganda broadcasts that might have demoralized a losing side came across as a charade to victorious Allied troops.

The August 2, 1944, Port Arthur News reported that Marines on Saipan favored Tokyo Rose over Bing Crosby although they felt slighted because they were not included in her “bonehead” list of Allied troops. The Cumberland Evening Times, on October 3, 1944, printed the banner headline “Tokyo Rose Broadcast Brings Hearty Laughs from Marines.” The article featured a letter written from Saipan from Pfc. Fred Theis to his parents.  “We like her music, and her attempts to make us homesick are funny.... Her broadcasts raise our morale.... Her inaccurate battle reports are a real laugh…. She said 50-60 planes raided Saipan about a week after we threw back their last desperate attack.”

To be  continued

Monday, April 22, 2013

Orphan Ann



Iva Toguri Broadcasting from Radio Tokyo

By degrees The Zero Hour increased in popularity. Major Tsuneishi decided to expand the time slot to an hour. He added two Nisei, George Mitsushio and Kenkichi Oki, to the production team.  Additionally Tsuneishi insisted that a woman commentator be added to the program. The last thing Cousens wanted was a sultry voiced Mata Hari like June Suyama, “The Nightingale of Nanking,” or sexy Myrtle “Little Margie” Lipton,” to skewer his lampoon of The Zero Hour. What he needed was a woman he could trust. The woman he selected was the chatty Nisei typist, who had no radio experience and whose voice had all the charm of a scratched record—Iva Toguri.

Everyone connected to The Zero Hour was astonished by Cousens’s choice of Toguri as his female voice for The Zero Hour. Ince said she had the voice of a crow. Mitsushio, the Nisei script writer, thought it was a joke. For Cousens, Toguri’s voice was a perfect fit for his propaganda parody. He said, “With the idea I had in mind of making a complete burlesque of the program, her voice was just what I wanted—rough. I hope I can say this without offense—a voice that I have described as a gin fog voice. It was rough, almost masculine, anything but a femininely seductive voice. It was a comedy voice that I needed for this particular job.”  It was a hard sell, but Cousens convinced Tsuneishi that Iva Toguri was the best choice to host the Zero Hour.

Promoting Toguri as the star of The Zero Hour was one thing; getting her to accept was another. His task was formidable. He had to convince a woman who had endured scorn and malnutrition because she refused to relinquish her American citizenship to become the female voice of a Japanese propaganda broadcast. When Cousens first broached the subject, Toguri flatly refused. She had access to western news reports, and she knew the tide of the war was shifting to the Allies. The idea of participating in a Japanese propaganda effort was ludicrous. At first she laughed Cousens off, but he persisted, telling her she would actually help the Allies by contributing to his parody. Cousens told her that, if she didn’t take the job, Tsuneishi would force him to use Ruth Hayakawa or another experienced Japanese propaganda voice. Although she was not fully convinced it was a good idea, Toguri trusted Cousens.  She agreed to host The Zero Hour. It was a life-changing decision that would brand the plucky American patriot as a traitor.

At six PM on November 10, 1943, Iva Toguri sat down in front of a microphone in Studio 5 of Radio Tokyo. She made a few announcements and played four records, and in twenty minutes her part of The Zero Hour was over. Afterwards she confronted Cousens in the studio. “This is crazy,” she said. “I’m no good at this.” He tried to humor her. “You are just what we want,” he replied. “We want a Yankee voice with a certain personality in it—a little touch of WAC officer and a lot of cheer. I’ll coach you to read scripts the way I want them, so don’t worry.”

A few days later Cousens told Toguri she needed a broadcast name. He used the first syllable of “an” in announcer and combined it with “orphan” a term he thought GIs could identify with because many dubbed themselves “orphans of the Pacific.” So Iva Toguri became “Orphan Ann,” and another ironic twist was added to the life of the Nisei who, as a child sat transfixed next to her radio listening to the adventures of Orphan Annie.  But she was a real-life Orphan Ann and there was no Daddy Warbucks to rescue her.

Quote - - "They Called Her Tokyo Rose"- Gunn p.51
Quote -- Duss, p. 81

To be continued

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Zero Hour



Prisoners of War Lieutenant Norman Reyes and Major Charles Cousens

On August 23, 1943, Toguri started working six days a week as an English typist at Radio Tokyo. Shortly before she began her new job, a career Japanese military man, Major Shigatsugu Tsuneishi, was appointed director of Radio Tokyo’s propaganda division. One of his pet projects was a twenty-minute, six-day-a-week broadcast called The Zero Hour. The title was derived from the agile and formidable Japanese Zero attack plane. The show's first broadcast was on March 20, 1943. It mixed jazz with dopey propaganda messages. Tsuneishi wanted a radio show that would make U.S. servicemen in his words —“homesicky.”  He knew nothing about producing a radio show so he scoured concentration camps searching for POWs with broadcasting experience.

Tsuneishi’s prize discovery was a dashing Australian major, Charles Cousens. Captured when Singapore fell to the Japanese, Cousens was a well-known Australian radio personality. After his capture Cousens steadfastly refused Japanese orders to assist in propaganda broadcasts. In retaliation, he was put in solitary confinement and shipped to a heavy-labor camp in Burma. After several months of brutal treatment at the labor camp, Cousens was shipped back to Singapore.  In Singapore he was ordered by an Australian POW colonel to cooperate with the Japanese. The colonel told Cousens his sole responsibility at Radio Tokyo would be to transmit POW messages and solicit Red Cross aid. Cousens reluctantly acquiesced to his superior’s order. His captors transported Cousens from Singapore to Tokyo aboard the Arabia Maru, the same ship Toguri took on her fateful voyage. During the first years of the war the refitted Arbia Maru conveyed Japanese troops and prisoners of war throughout the South Pacific. Although it never achieved the notoriety of a POW "hellship" like its sister ship the Hawaii Maru, the Arabia Maru served as a Japanese transport until it was torpedoed and sunk on October 18, 1944, by the U.S. submarine Bluegill.

Cousens survived the journey to Tokyo on a daily ration of a cup of foul water, a ball of dirty rice, and seaweed soup. By the time the Arabia Maru docked in Yokohoma  Cousens, wracked with dysentery, was a mere shadow of the dashing Australian major who fought so gallantly at the Battle of Singapore. When he arrived at Radio Tokyo, Major Tsuneishi ordered Cousens to write Zero Hour scripts. Cousens refused. He told Tsuneishi, “Give me a pistol and a cartridge, that will save time for both of us.”

But Tsuneishi was not about to execute such a valuable resource. A few days later Cousens reported to Tsuneishi’s office. Cousens was no stranger to Japanese military brutality.  During his forced march from Singapore to a Japanese labor camp Cousens walked a road lined with heads of Chinese women impaled on sticks. Wayside ditches were scattered with the corpses of bayoneted babies. Standing outside the door of Major Tsuneishi’s office, Cousens expected the worst.

Inside the office Tsuneishi, dressed in full military regalia, stood behind his desk. When Cousens entered Tsuneishi bellowed “Attention!” and dramatically slammed a “gunto,” a two handed samurai sword' on his desk. The threat was obvious to all in the room - 'do as you are told or die'! The bluff worked. Emotionally and physically drained Cousens acquiesced. The next night Cousens sat in front of a microphone at Radio Tokyo and read his first propaganda script.

Two weeks later Major Tsuneishi ordered Cousens to produce The Zero Hour. With no options Cousens played along. However, he had a plan to subvert the propaganda broadcast. Although Japanese censors could understand English they couldn’t detect implied nuances such as sarcasm and double entendres. Cousens planned to undercut Tsuneishi’s plot to demoralize GIs by altering the subtext of The Zero Hour. He would dress propaganda in parody. His tactics were subtle. He read scripts in a manner that implied to an English-speaking listener that he was being forced. One mocking tactic was to first read a script quickly and then slowly. He mispronounced words and used a dispirited tone of voice. He mocked Japanese hubris.

One story detailed how a Japanese pilot shot down several American planes. As the pilot pursued the last plane, he ran out of ammunition. The ingenious pilot reached into his lunch pail for a ball of rice, which he threw at the American plane. The rice ball hit the American pilot in the face.  He lost control of his plane and crashed. Another tale described a Pacific island battle in which ten Japanese soldiers defeated a force of 400 American Marines without suffering a single casualty.

Cousens convinced Tsuneishi that such amazing stories were evidence of Japanese invincibility. The tactic of using Japanese military arrogance as a comedy ploy worked. The Zero Hour gained in popularity among American servicemen. Soon two other POWs——were added to The Zero Hour cast. Cousens wrote the scripts, and the two other POWs an American, Wallace Ince, and a Filipino Lieutenant Norman Reyes, took turns playing music and making zany propaganda “announcements.”

Toguri had been at Radio Tokyo only a few days when she spotted Cousens, Reyes, and Ince walking down a hallway. To Toguri the three POWs looked like scarecrows. They were missing teeth, their hair was falling out, and they were covered with sores. Dirty canvas shorts and worn khaki shirts hung like drapes over their emaciated bodies. Toguri felt sorry for them. She was, however, thrilled to be so close to English-speaking soldiers. When the opportunity presented itself she struck up a conversation. At first the three POWs were suspicious of Toguri. Many Nisei worked undercover for the Tokko. Ince in particular suspected a rat. He told Cousens and Reyes, "I hate Japs. I don't give a hang whether they're Nisei, Issei or whatever.  I hate em all." But as weeks passed their chats with Toguri about baseball and news events back home gradually dissipated the POWs' suspicions.

The bond of trust was sealed when Toguri smuggled them food and medicine. Providing aid to prisoners of war was punishable by death. Undeterred, Toguri hid contraband in her clothes, her handbag, and  among Japanese documents. To the POWS such basic necessities as quinine, lemons, and aspirin were treasure. After work Toguri scrounged the Tokyo countryside for food. She bought whatever black market supplies she could afford. With each act of smuggling Toguri  risked her life. She was determined to do all she could to allay the suffering of her new friends.

Quote, Masayo Duus,  "Tokyo Rose, Orphan of the Pacific, p.72
Quote, Fred Close, p. 141

To be continued


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Japanese Internment

Gila River Relocation Center

"All of us can't stay in the [internment] camps until the end of the war.  Some of us have to go to the front.  Our record on the battlefield will determine when you will return and how you will be treated.  I don't know if I'll make it back."Technical Sergeant Abraham Ohama, Company "F", 442nd RCT, Killed in Action 10/20/1944

While Toguri struggled to survive in Tokyo her family in Los Angeles faced their own desperate situation.  Pearl Harbor triggered an onslaught of anti-Japanese sentiment throughout the country. The majority of persons of Japanese ancestry who lived in California were industrious and loyal, but they carried the stigma of a reviled nation. On February 19th, 1942 President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the immediate relocation of suspected saboteurs and spies to "exclusion zones". On May 3, General John Dewitt, California's military commander, ordered all individuals of Japanese ancestry, whether citizens or not, rounded up and shipped to relocation camps.  Dewitt explained his decision to Congress, "A Jap's a Jap. I don't want any of them here. They are a dangerous element.  There is no way to determine their loyalty.  It makes no difference  whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese.  We must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map."

Along with 110,000 other inhabitants of Japanese ancestry who lived on the Pacific coast, the entire Toguri family - father Jun and mother Fumi, brother Fred and his wife Miyeko and Iva's sisters June and Inez were ordered to a temporary assembly center in Tulare, California.  They were to await transport to a permanent relocation camp.

In her biography Tokyo Rose Orphan of the Pacific Masayo Duus described the primitive conditions of the so-called assembly centers scattered throughout the west. "Within a few weeks they [individuals of Japanese ancestry] had been herded into jerry-built wooden barracks thrown up on racetracks, fairgrounds, or live stock pavilions. The barracks were crowded, flimsy and without any privacy. Even the toilets were communal."

With hundreds of other detainees the Toguri family arrived at Tulare on May 6th, 1942. They were housed in a 10 by 20 foot horse stall. There were no windows, no fresh air. They slept on cots. Fifty-four year old Fumi, who was paralyzed on her right side from a stroke, grew weaker each day. On May 24th she died.

On September 2nd the military moved the Toguri's to the Gila River Relocation Center.  Gila River a Native -American reservation was taken over by the Federal government over the objections of the Gila River Indian tribe.  Located on a barren stretch of desert approximately 30 miles southeast of Phoenix the internment camp was designed to accommodate 10,000 detainees. But by December 2nd over 14,000 Japanese occupied the camp making it the 4th largest city in Arizona.  By internment camp standards Gila River was one of the most humane.  Residents lived in barracks specially built to ward off the desert heat. Watchtowers and barbed wire were unnecessary because no one was foolish enough to try to cross the harsh landscape on foot. The camp had playgrounds, a post office, stores, it's own police force, and sundry other small town services. All of the detainees were expected to work. Jun took a job at a supply store. Fred, who studied law, worked as a butcher. June was a seamstress and Inez worked in the mess hall.

Eleanor Roosevelt visited the Gila River Camp in 1943. She surely must have had mixed feelings about what she saw. She praised the humanitarian conditions of Gila River, but she also made it clear that she considered internment wrong.

"A Japanese American may be no more Japanese than a German-American is German, or an Italian-American is Italian, or of any other national background. All of these people, including the Japanese Americans, have men who are fighting today for the preservation of the democratic way of life and the ideas around which our nation was built.
We have no common race in this country, but we have an ideal to which all of us are loyal: we cannot progress if we look down upon any group of people amongst us because of race or religion. Every citizen in this country has a right to our basic freedoms, to justice and to equality of opportunity. We retain the right to lead our individual lives as we please, but we can only do so if we grant to others the freedoms that we wish for ourselves." Despite the fact that many of their families were interned in relocation camps over 30,000 Japanese-Americans volunteered for military service.

The 442nd Nisei Regiment fought in Italy, Germany and southern France. Because of its distinguished battle record the 442nd received eight Presidential Unit Citations. Regimental soldiers were awarded 52 Distinguished Service Medals, 588 Silver Stars and 5,200 Bronze Stars. Twenty-one members of the Regiment received the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor on the battlefield.  The Regimental motto was "Go for Broke. It's nickname was the "Purple Heart Battalion".  The 442nd Nisei Regiment is considered to be the most highly decorated infantry division in the history of the United States Army.

The 442nd in Training Exercise

Ohama quote: (Retrieved April 9, 2013)
Dewitt quote: p. 108-109, Frederick P. Close, Tokyo Rose An American Patriot
Roosevelt quote:; retrieved April 9, 2013

To be continued

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

  The Legend Begins



During World War II, Germany had "Axis Sally" and Japan had "Tokyo Rose". Both were legendary female broadcasters who played music infused with propaganda.  Their mission was to lower the morale of Allied troops by mixing half-truths about the course of the war with phony stories about depressing conditions back in the States.  "Axis Sally" was Mildred Gillars, a German-American from Portland, Maine.  "Tokyo Rose" was nobody and everybody.  While "Axis Sally" was an individual, "Tokyo Rose" was a generic name Allied troops gave to a score of female announcers who broadcast propaganda from Japan, Phillipines, and Indonesia.

The legend of "Tokyo Rose" began in 1937 when construction workers listening to a short wave radio in Samoa heard a female disc jockey broadcasting Japanese propaganda between musical selections. Incredibly a rumor circulated that the broadcaster was the intrepid aviator Amerlia Earhart, whose plane disappeared somewhere over the Pacific on July 2, 1937.  She was attempting to be the first woman pilot to circumnavigate the globe.  The first military reference to "Tokyo Rose" was made by a U.S. Chief Radioman, J. M. Eckberg, aboard the U.S.S. Seawolf four days after Pearl Harbor.  Listening to the ship's short wave radio the officer heard a female who called herself "Madame Tojo" brag about sinking the American fleet. Eckberg described her broadcast in 1945 book recounting the exploits of the Seawolf.

"She was a female [traitor] who sold us out to the Japs, and she opened her her program with old-fashioned sentimental songs.  The idea was, I suppose, to make us homesick.  She was taunting us now about Japanese victories and Allied defeats.  She sunk the U.S. fleet as we listened, night after night. 'Where is the great United States fleet?' She began in her phony Oxford accent. 'I'll tell you where it is! It's lying at the bottom of Pearl Harbor!' She went on to tell us all the details.  Her voice rose hysterically: 'Why don't you give up, you fools out there? You can't stand up against the power of the Imperial Fleet!'" Eckberg called her "Tokio Rose".

After the Pearl Harbor attack a score of females broadcast Japanese propaganda throughout the south Pacific.  Most notable among these early versions of "Tokyo Rose" were Ruth Hayakawa who broadcast from Radio Tokyo, Myrtle Lipton in the Phillipines, and the "Nanking Nightingale", June Suyama.  Gradually the myth of a sexy and all-knowing "Tokyo Rose"grew to legendary proportions.  Like Ulysses, who could not ignore the sirens' songs, Allied troops throughout the Pacific twirled the dials on their short-wave radios hoping to snatch a bit of entertainment and news from the sultry siren of the Pacific.  Quality of short-wave reception is influenced by a number of factors including equipment, time of the day and weather. Even with the best conditions audio quality is spotty.  For entertainment starved troops, hop-scotching from island to island with one bloody battle following another, discriminating among female broadcasters was not a concern.  It was simpler just to say, 'Hey, I picked up a Tokyo Rose broadcast'.

The formats were similar.  Sandwiched between pop music selections was news about stateside disasters such as floods and train wrecks. Insidious comments about cheating wives and girlfriends were regular features. Most troubling were announcements about Allied troop movements and impending Japanese attacks. The August 20, 1943 issue of Yank Magazine described a Japanese broadcaster claiming the "coward" "Butch" O'Hare, an ace American pilot and Medal of Honor winner would soon die.  On November 26, 1943 O'Hare's F-26 Hellcat was shot down during a night time raid on a Japanese aircraft carrier. His plane was never recovered.  Knowledge of pilot names, along with predictions of battle outcomes, lent a foreboding sense of legitimacy to "Tokyo Rose' broadcasts.

To be continued