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The subtle art of propaganda campaigns directed against one's enemies has been a feature of war since ancient times. However, its potential for mass psychological impact created a new paradigm with the invention of modern electronic communications. Every nation involved in the Second World War, whether of the Allies or Axis, possessed an agency devoted to the mission of demoralizing and misleading the enemy, and virtually all artistic genres participated.
Japanese propaganda was not a new invention to be used only against the United States. While the US lacked any international audience, preaching mostly to its own, Japan disseminated propagandistic material throughout all the Asian countries it eventually intended to conquer. In the years leading up to World War II, an intense study led by the Japanese government delved into the details of American culture and customs, particularly those dear to men of fighting age. Both countries, at one time or another, assaulted the Chinese world image as represented by "yellow monkeys", or the "yellow peril." Both the US and Japan made excellent use of the "war poster", but among the most striking was an American-created image of a naked white woman slung over the shoulder of a Japanese officer, as if the entire American nation would be raped if the empire was allowed to prevail. By 1945, Japanese animation was in full swing, producing films such Momotaro: Sacred Sailors. American officers are portrayed as bulbous idiots as the noble Japanese seamen save the island. By the end of the war, the US instructed all copies to be destroyed, but one mysteriously survived.
An American citizen stranded in Japan as an enemy alien during the war, Iva Toguri was a regular broadcaster on what became an ongoing thread of what she saw as entertainment for American sailors and their counterparts. The Japanese, generally unable to speak English with the necessary accuracy, sought to cause emotional fatigue among American forces through reminiscing over the music and memories of lost Americana. They believed that Toguri was the ideal on-air personality with whom to accomplish such an end. However, history is less certain as to what actually occurred in Toguri's time at the microphone, and the bulk of examples have since been lost. Her true intentions in speaking for a country she never wished to visit and would not join as a citizen is still debated. Edwin O. Reischauer, an American ambassador from the 1960s, reflected on the Tokyo Rose story as "a mere wartime myth."
Tokyo Rose: The History and Legacy of Iva Toguri and Japan's Most Famous Propaganda Campaign During World War II examines the controversial career and legacy of the war's most famous radio propaganda campaign. You will learn about Tokyo Rose like never before.