Tokyo Rose /
A Dual Biography
"Peanut Guerrilla" Update
In 2101 hardback TR/AP pp. 281-282, I relayed a story Iva Toguri told me about a
young Japanese woman named Keiko who had refused to surrender. She had finally
been captured by U.S. forces and sentenced to serve a year in Sugamo where Iva met
her. Iva respected her tenacity and after her prison sentence was up, she
semi-adopted the young woman whose family could not afford to feed her. Iva
eventually sent her to design school and then lost track of her.
Ako Kitamura of TV Asahi kindly provided me with this update:
"In your book you mentioned that you could not trace the lady that Iva presented you
as KEIKO, who shared Sugamo Prison with her. I wondered who she was, and with Mr.
Tsukasa Takahashi (the main director of our program) we tried to find out. May be you
already know it...
* Her name was not Keiko, but Eiko. Eiko Ishii. She was in Sugamo from 18th January
1946 to 9th January 1947. She spent 9 month with Iva, there. A Japanese author
Fuyuko Kamisaka had traced her and spend several pages in her book,”Tokyo Rose”
(published in 1978) based on an interview she had with Eiko. Eiko talked about her
past before Sugamo, and also about her stay in Sugamo. The surprising thing is that
she said that the daily life in Sugamo was quite comfortable, and that all the legends
such as the light put on 24h/24h was not true and they could switch on and out it
freely from inside their room. Also she said that the room was larger than it is said,
and they could take 3 hours of bath-time a day, instead of as it is said once every 3
"Concerning Eiko's story, thank you for understanding that I am quite busy now, but I
will give you the story in a while...promised!"
I have included this corrected version in the 2014 Revised and Expanded Edition, pp.
I asked Dick Eisenhart, the first prosecution witness who presented the autographed
yen note and who was a guard at Sugamo, about Eiko's recollections. He responded,
"Regarding the question about lights being on 24 hours a day, it never, never
happened, if my 85-year-old memory serves me correctly. Of course I might not
remember what I had to eat yesterday but it still handles everything I need to
remember. And I think you are right that it probably was three hour periods during
which they could bathe rather than three hour baths."
Iva Toguri had testified at her trial that they kept the lights on 24 hours a day and only
allowed her a bath once every three days. Without any testimony to the contrary, I
accepted this testimony at face value. (See TR/AP, p. 275.) I did at least have the good
sense to doubt her claim that Eisenhart got his autograph by flipping the lights on and
off in the cellblock for six days and nights (TR/AP, pp. 415-416).
Based on Eiko's and Eisenhart's memories, I now believe Iva's testimony with regard
to her prison circumstances were yet one more example of what I called Iva's "lying to
protect the truth." She was mistreated -- the U.S. had no good reason to imprison her
for a year while it investigated whether she had committed a crime -- so she
exaggerated the misery of her circumstances.
The one bath every three days apparently is a complete fabrication. (I had translated
Ako's English for Dick Eisenhart to mean that Iva had a 3 hour window of opportunity
each day for a bath, not that she took 3 hour baths.) The "lights on" testimony is
probably a mixture of truth and falsity. I imagine Sugamo Prison was like a hospital.
One could dim or even turn off the lights in a cell but the hall lights stayed on around
the clock. It was after all a prison; authorities would not allow the facility to become
completely dark. Anyone who has tried to sleep with the hall lights on knows how
difficult it can be, so I suspect the truth lies halfway between Eiko's surprising
assertion that life at Sugamo was quite comfortable and Iva's statements about
I regret that I contacted Ako Kitamura in 2013 and learned that she has left TV Asahi
and now lives in Paris. She no longer has access to the original materials and cannot
provide an update on this subject.