Born on July 4, 1916, in Los Angeles, California, to the parents of Jun and Fumi Toguri, Iva Ikoku Toguri was an American citizen with Japanese heritage (Lerner 163; Tokyo1). Toguri and her three siblings were raised in a predominantly white neighborhood in Compton, California, where their father disapproved of them learning the Japanese language so they could better fit into American society. Toguri eventually went on to attend Compton Junior College after finishing high school and then transferred to University of California, Los Angeles where she graduated in 1941 with a zoology degree (Iva 1; Tokyo 1). Soon after college, Toguri left America to tend to an extremely ill aunt in Japan on July 5, 1941. Unfortunately, she only acquired a certificate of identification from the US State Department and not an actual passport. After six months, Toguri planned to return home on a ship on December 2 but missed it due to passport complications (Lerner 163; Tokyo1, 2).
As a result, Toguri was still in Japan when their military bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, launching the United States into war with Japan (Lerner 163; Tokyo 2). Refusing to deny her American citizenship, she was classified as an enemy alien and kicked out of her relative’s home. Her request to go back to her home country or even to be quartered with other American civilians was denied because of her gender and Japanese descent (Iva 1; Lerner
163). That was not the least of her worries for the Japanese government not only refused to give Toguri a food ration card but also kept her under consistent brutal inspection by the military (Tokyo 2; Lerner 163). However, she was not alone in her hardships because, little to her
knowledge, Toguri’s family had been placed in a Japanese-American internment camp in the United States (Tokyo 2). It was difficult to find work in Japan without knowing the language so from 1941 to 1943 Toguri went to a school (Lerner 163). It paid off when she found a job in 1943 at Radio Tokyo typing and translating English scripts meant to demolish American troops stationed in the Pacific with mockery and fake military news (Tokyo 2; Lerner 163; Iva 1). While working there, Toguri befriended Felipe D’Aquino, a colleague and Portuguese national, and Major Charles Cousens, a former Australian radio host who was now forced to broadcast on the propagandist radio show “Zero Hour” (Tokyo 2). Radio Tokyo wanted a female’s voice for this show and since Toguri spoke English, she was the perfect match (Lerner 163). In November 1943, she joined the radio program under the name “Orphan Ann” playing songs and speaking to the soldiers for twenty minutes out of each day (Tokyo 2). In 1945, Toguri married D’Aquino and, later that year, the war finally ended (Iva 1; Tokyo 2).
During the course of the war, Radio Tokyo employed over twenty women to broadcast programs to the foreign troops (Lerner 163; Iva 1). A myth began to be dispersed and soon the women were all called...