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Tokyo Rose was Orphan Ann(ie)?

So this one is an interesting twist. And, I happened to run across this by accident...

I was recently watching the 2001 movie "Pearl Harbor," which features Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett. In the scene where the Army pilots with the Doolittle Raid are on the aircraft carrier just before they launch, you hear a slightly Japanese accented voice speaking English over the radio. She says, "This is Orphan Annie from Radio Tokyo. This is for the Army boys in the South Pacific: 'Watch out! The enemy will get you."

Scene from 2001 Movie Pearl Harbor.

Wow! I can't say that I ever remember that from this movie. Of course, the person that is being depicted on the radio is the infamous "Tokyo Rose." She was a Japanese propagandist who broadcast over the airways within range of the American forces. The broadcasts were intended to demoralize the American troops, and were used as an early method of psychological warfare.

However, this is the first time that I have heard "Tokyo Rose" refer to herself as "Orphan Annie." This is a new one for me. However, what I find most interesting is not only the name but what she says in this particular scene. Rose is CLEARLY referencing the James Whitcomb Riley "Little Orphant Annie" poem here - - NOT the Harold Gray comic strip, "Little Orphan Annie." So I find that part - fascinating. The phrase, "Watch out the enemy will get you" - is a play on Riley's popular phrase: "An' the gobblins will get you, ef you don't watch out!" Of course, we have to remember - this is a movie - and movies tend to embellish history with drama to make the story interesting - - so how much of this is based on fact???

Well I would have to listen to a lot of radio programs to find out if this exact phrase was ever used. However, I do know that in an interview with one woman who was a "Tokyo Rose" - she did in fact sign off on her programs with the following phrase: “This is your No. 1 enemy, Orphan Annie, reminding GIs, always be good.”

So this is fairly close. By "reminding GIs, alway be good" - it could still be a reference to Riley's poem. That Little Orphant Annie character charged her listeners to (paraphrased): mind your parents, and teachers fond and dear, and cherish them that love you and dry the orphan's tear, and help the poor and needy ones that cluster all about, or the gobblins will get you if you don't watch out. In essence she is saying - be good, which is the total jist of the Riley poem.

However, the movie doesn't have it totally correct.

The Doolittle Raid took place on April 18, 1942. But, the female Japanese Propagandist who called herself "Orphan Ann" - and sometimes "Orphan Annie" - did not start broadcasting until November 1943. That doesn't mean there wasn't a "Tokyo Rose" at that time - it just means it wasn't the "Tokyo Rose" who called herself, "Orphan Ann."

So let's explain this:

The real "Tokyo Rose" was really many different women who broadcast on Japanese radio. A History Channel article by Evan Andrews that was written about the character states: There were dozens of English-speaking women who read propaganda. As the war dragged on, American servicemen began referring to the different female voices by a single, infamous nickname: Tokyo Rose. However, none of the announcers—had ever used the moniker, yet the character became legendary.

While the Japanese intended for these radio shows to serve as morale-sapping propaganda, most G.I.s considered it a welcome distraction from the monotony of their duties. One in particular has been identified. Her name was Iva Toguri, and she was actually an American.

Iva was born to Japanese immigrants in Los Angeles on July 4, 1916. Andrews' article states: "She had spent her youth serving in the Girl Scouts and playing on her school’s tennis team, and later graduated from UCLA with a zoology degree. In 1941, her parents sent her on a trip to Japan to help care for an ailing aunt. The 25-year-old Toguri had never been abroad before and quickly grew homesick, but her problems only mounted that December, when a paperwork problem saw her denied a place on a ship home. Only a few days later, the Japanese bombed Pear Harbor."

A article from 2018 states: "Japanese secret police came and visited her to demand that she renounce her U.S. citizenship and pledge loyalty to the Japanese emperor. She refused. She became an enemy alien and was denied a food ration card. She left her aunts and moved to a boarding house (in Tokyo). By August 1943, she was working as a typist at the broadcasting organization Radio Tokyo, and this would be where she would ultimately appear on the air as "Orphan Ann(ie)."

At Radio Tokyo she met Major Charles Cousens, an Australian military officer who had been captured in Singapore. Cousens had been a successful radio announcer before the war, and now - he was being forced to produce a propaganda show called the “Zero Hour.” However, in defiance of their captors, Cousens and his fellow POWs had been working to sabotage the program by making its message as laughable and harmless as possible. After befriending Toguri, who occasionally smuggled supplies to him, Cousens hatched a plan to use her on air as a radio announcer. “With the idea that I had in mind of making a complete burlesque of the program, her voice was just what I wanted,” he later said. “It was rough, almost masculine, nothing of a femininely seductive voice. It was the comedy voice that I needed for this particular job.”While she was initially hesitant to get behind the microphone, Toguri eventually became a key participant in Cousens’ scheme. Starting in November 1943, her “gin-fog” voice was a recurring feature on the “Zero Hour” broadcasts.

However, what is almost just as interesting was how Toguri ended up being called "Orphan Ann." According to a book by Frederick Close on Tokyo Rose, the scripts that Cousens wrote used "ANN" as the abbreviation for "Announcer." However, Toguri, who was completely inexperienced, read outloud: "ANN will read the following" the first time she broadcast. Immediately, she realized her mistake and ad libbed that this was Ann speaking. Cousens found "Ann" as a radio name "insipid and dull." However, Toguri remembered Harold Gray's "Orphan Annie," which was one of the top five American cartoon strips when she left the US. Her loneliness and isolation in Japan caused her to identify with the title character. So she decided when she broadcast on the "Zero Hour" she would refer to herself as "Orphan Ann" and to her GI listeners as "my favorite orphans." (Close, Tokyo Rose).

So in this case, we know that Tokyo's "Orphan Ann" was connecting to the Harold Gray character. We also know that she would sometimes refer to herself as "Orphan Annie." So at least we can connect Toyko Rose to the Comic Strip Annie. However, Iva Toguri's story is just beginning...

Toguri grew adept at reading Cousens’ scripts in a joking manner, sometimes even warning her listeners that the show was propaganda. “So be on your guard, and mind the children don’t hear!” went one introduction. “All set? Okay! Here’s the first blow at your morale—the Boston Pops playing ‘Strike Up the Band!’” In another broadcast, Toguri called her listeners “my favorite family of boneheads, the fighting G.I.s in the blue Pacific.” (Andrews, History Channel).

Toguri would be on the the "Zero Hour" program for a year and a half and would make 340 different broadcasts, but she desperately wanted to return to America (Biography). She would meet her journalist husband, Filipe D'Aquino, a Portugese-Japanese man, and would marry him in 1945 - just before America dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even though she wanted to return home, she did not know what had happened to her family. She had not heard from her parents since 1942. What she didn't know was they had been rounded up and sent to an internment camp in Arizona. All she knew was all communication had stopped (Biography).

After the war, Iva and her husband were in dire financial straits. It was then that two American reporters, following the occupation army, arrived in Japan and offered $2,000 for an interview with the famous “Tokyo Rose.” Needing the money, Iva naively stepped forward to recount her story. It would prove to be a disastrous decision (Andrews, History Channel).

Once her identity became public, Toguri was made into the poster child for Japan’s wartime propaganda, and she was immediately arrested on suspicion of treason. She would remain in custody for over a year until a government investigation concluded that her broadcasts had been nothing more than “innocuous” entertainment. (Andrews, History Channel)

Unfortunately, her story made national news and was picked up by none other than Walter Winchell. He went on a tirade, and demanded that she be returned to the U.S. so she could be tried. In 1948, President Truman felt moved to act, and she was eventually charged with treason. Her passage back to the U.S. was as a prisoner (Biography). At her trial in San Francisco, Toguri stressed that she had remained loyal to the United States by working to make a farce of her broadcasts. She also offered as evidence of her loyalty that she had never renounced her American citizenship (Andrews, History Channel).

Her Radio Tokyo friend, Charles Cousens, even came to the United States to testify on her behalf. However, the prosecution produced a series of Japanese witnesses who claimed to have heard her make incendiary statements on the air. Much of the case centered on a single broadcast that occurred after the Battle of Leyte Gulf, when she was alleged to have said, “Orphans of the Pacific, you are really orphans now. How will you get home now that your ships are sunk?” (Andrews, History Channel)

The remark proved to be a deciding factor in the case. In October 1949, a jury found her guilty of one count of treason. She was stripped of her American citizenship, given a $10,000 fine and sentenced to ten years behind bars. Toguri ultimately spent six years in a women’s prison in West Virginia before being released early in 1956. She eventually reunited with her family, and settled in Chicago, where she worked for her father's business. However, she was in effect "stateless." Ironically this made her an orphanned citizen - as she "belonged to no one." She did not have American citizenship because it had been stripped, but she belonged to no other country either. (Andrews, History Channel)

She was forced to fight off a deportation order from the U.S. government, and received no answer from repeated presidential pardon requests from three different administrations and several petitions for a Supreme Court appeal. It was nearly two decades before there was a fresh development in her case. In 1976, two of the key witnesses from her trial admitted that they had been threatened and goaded into testifying against her. “She got a raw deal,” one of them said. “She was railroaded into jail.” Furthermore, it was proven that the jury, who convicted her, was never shown the transcripts of her radio broadcasts. These transcripts did not include the incendiary language that she was accused of using. Also, around that same time, the foreman of her jury said that the judge in the case had pressed for a guilty verdict. (Andrews, History Channel)

In a 1975 People Magazine article, Iva Toguri D'Aquino was still staunchly defending her innocence. However, after thirty years of fighting, she was getting tired of the public harrassment, and the battle to be exonerated. All she really wanted was her name to be cleared. She said: “There is an old Japanese saying, ‘Rumors die out after 75 days.’ But this—this will take 75 years.” She continued to proclaim her innocence stating, “I’ll get my reward in heaven. What I did is between me and God.”

Fortunately, it didn't take that long for "Orphan Ann" to be vindicated. On January 19, 1977, in one of his last acts in office, President Gerald Ford granted Toguri's Presidential Pardon request. By that time, she was 60 years old, and she had spent almost thirty of those years in limbo. President Ford's clemency included the complete exoneration of her charge of treason, and the restoration of her American citizenship. “It is hard to believe,” she said at the time. “But I have always maintained my innocence—this pardon is a measure of vindication.” The woman once known as “Orphan Ann” and "Tokyo Rose" later returned to private life in Chicago, where she died in 2006. (Andrews, History Channel)


Andrews, Evan How “Tokyo Rose” Became WWII’s Most Notorious Propagandist" January 20, 2017

Close, Frederick. Tokyo Rose, An American Patriot: A Dual Biography. New York: Rowan and Littlefield, 2014.

"Iva D'Aquino Was Tokyo Rose, All Right, but Was She a 'Patriot,' Too?" December 8, 1975

"Pearl Harbor" Dir. Michael Bay. Perf. Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, Colm Feore, and Alec Baldwin. Touchstone Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films, 2001 DVD.

"Tokyo Rose Biography" July 3, 2018

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