Thursday, September 28, 2006

Woman tried as announcer Tokyo Rose dies in Chicago

Woman tried as announcer Tokyo Rose dies in Chicago

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An American woman convicted of treason and later pardoned for being "Tokyo Rose," one of several radio announcers Japan used during World War Two to spew propaganda to undermine American morale, has died, a Chicago hospital said on Wednesday.

Iva Toguri, 90, died on Tuesday from undisclosed causes, a hospital spokesman said.

She was convicted of treason in 1949 based on suspect testimony that she was the legendary "seductress of the short wave" who had sought to persuade American soldiers to surrender because their cause was lost and their girlfriends were deserting them at home.

She served more than six years in prison, though many historians believe she was not one of the dozen announcers dubbed "Tokyo Rose" by American soldiers, who mostly laughed off the surrender appeals.

Toguri did work as an announcer for the "Zero Hour" program on Radio Tokyo, but mostly played jazz records and uttered facetious comments meant to bolster, not weaken, American resolve, say historians.

Born July 4, 1916, in Los Angeles, the young college graduate was visiting a sick relative in Japan when she became trapped there as war broke out. Starving and sick, unable to speak Japanese, she answered an ad to become an English-language typist for Radio Tokyo.

She married another station employee, Felipe D'Aquino, a Portuguese of Japanese descent.

After the war, a pregnant Toguri sought to return to the United States but broadcaster Walter Winchell and others cited her possible role as Tokyo Rose and criticized the U.S. administration for not punishing her. Toguri eventually signed interview notes implicating herself, thinking she could speed her return home.

Later, U.S. President Gerald Ford, made aware that she had likely been made a scapegoat during the nervous climate in the early days of the Cold War, pardoned Toguri in 1977.

After her release from prison, Toguri opened a small shop in Chicago and fought for a pardon.

The only other American woman convicted of treason was Mildred Gellers, known as "Axis Sally" as a broadcaster for Germany.