Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pearl Harbor


Pearl Harbor

On December 1st, Toguri's father called back and instructed her to book passage on the Tatsuta Maru. The freighter was departing for the United States the next day. Toguri rushed to the consulate and once again pleaded with officials to issue her a passport. They told her it would be weeks or maybe months before her application to Washington would be approved. The next day, December 2, the ship sailed without her. When Toguri returned to her aunt and uncle's house that evening she was devastated and frightened.  The Japanese propaganda machine was feeding its citizens a steady diet of anti-American misinformation - Nisei were American spies; America was preparing an invasion of  Japan; President Roosevelt was a simple minded cripple.  On the other side of the Pacific American propaganda demonized Japanese - women were insidious and soldiers were subhuman.

Five days later on Sunday morning December 7, the Japanese navy under the command of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto launched a sneak attack on military bases in Oahu, Hawaii.  Three hundred fifty three aircraft pummeled military airfields and the Pearl Harbor naval base. American airmen and sailors never had a chance. In three hours they suffered 2,403 casualties. The battleship Arizona took an armor piercing bomb in the ship's forward ammunition magazine. The explosion and fire killed 1,777 sailors. Twenty-one ships were sunk or damaged and 188 aircraft were destroyed. 

Immediately after the attack the Tatsura Maru turned around and returned to Japan. Toguri was one of 10,000 Nisei stranded in Japan.  Pearl Harbor changed her status from foreigner to enemy.  Neighborhood children taunted her and neighbors called her "horyo". The phrase means "prisoner of war" but among the Japanese the implication was that she was a coward - one who surrendered rather than dying honorably.  Aunt Shizo warned her to avoid doing or saying anything that would draw attention. "I went around in a daze," Toguri later recalled. "I could not believe war had broken out."
A few days after Pearl Harbor, Tokko agents interrogated Toguri

photo -

To be continued