Tokyo Rose Never Existed

Via Andrew Sullivan I stumbled upon a blog post by Vorjack that tells us that one of the most well-known stories from the Pacific Theater during World War Two was never true:

During the WWII, GIs in the Pacific theater sent letters back home carrying stories of a woman they called “Tokyo Rose.” She was the siren of the Pacific, calling out to the lonely American servicemen in a sultry voice, carried by Japanese radio waves. She taunted them, insulted them and foretold their eventual demise.

It turns out that these stories were either apocryphal, or incredibly exaggerated:

Stories of Tokyo Rose are common in the war correspondence. Yet the attempts to find the woman have gone nowhere. One woman, named Iva Toguri d’Aquino, was eventually convicted. However, this seems to have been a media driven witch hunt rather than a careful investigation.

Toguri was a second generation Japanese-American who got caught visiting an aunt when the war started. She did serve as a “radio girl,” but under the name “Orphan Ann.” Her voice did not match the descriptions of Tokyo Rose. Unfortunately for her, she was the only radio girl to remain an American citizen after the war, making her the only possible guest of honor for an American show trial.

In fact, there doesn’t seem to have been any one person who went by the name “Tokyo Rose.” There were twenty-seven different female broadcasters at some point in the war, but none consistently used the handle of “Tokyo Rose.”


The stories of Tokyo Rose were examined by the Office of Warfare Information (OWI), looking for the how she got her supposed intelligence. In the end, the OWI categorically rejected the stories as urban legends:

There is no Tokyo Rose; the name is strictly a GI invention … Government monitors listening in twenty-four hours a day have never heard the words Tokyo Rose over a Japanese-controlled Far Eastern Radio. (quoted in The Hunt for Tokyo Rose, p, xvii)

Just another example of how, when it comes to history what you know isn’t always so.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I used to go into Toguri’s store pretty frequently. I bought my kendo supplies there. When I went there I invariably saw Mrs. d’Aquino, sitting quietly behind the counter.