2010 / Documentary on Japanese American WWII Radio Broadcasters to be screened, July 10

2010 / The documentary, “Calling Tokyo,” tells the story of Japanese Americans who participated in the United States and Britain’s World War II broadcast campaign to influence the hearts and minds of people in Japan.

JANM Calling Tokyo

Picture by Tokyo Broadcasting System – re-creation of radio broadcasting

This video documentary will be screened as part of a public program set for Saturday, July 10, beginning at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles.

While the U.S. government unconstitutionally incarcerated 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry during the war, the government also recruited a group of Japanese Americans to be part of the Office of War Information (OWI) and the British Political Warfare Mission (BPWM) in a Joint Anglo American Plan of Propaganda.

The OWI and BPWM produced regular short-wave radio broadcasts in Japanese in hopes of convincing Japanese political and military leadership to surrender.

The work was considered top secret and some broadcasters never even told their wives what they were doing.

Gary Ono, who produced “Calling Tokyo,” was intrigued to find out that his father was among this small group of Japanese American broadcasters.

Using some of the reparation money he received from the government along with an

official apology thanks to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, Ono began researching into this little-known story of Japanese Americans contributing to the war effort.

In essence, these Japanese American radio broadcasters would provide news reports combined with music through short-wave transmission.

The broadcasts were entirely in Japanese and required a high level of proficiency in translation. It has been estimated that less than 70 non-Japanese individuals could speak Japanese in the U.S. when the war began, so the language skills of this group of broadcasters was rare.

“Calling Tokyo,” which was co-produced by Janice D. Tanaka and Sreescanda

Subramonian and partially funded by a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (CCLPEP), will be screened at the program.

Ono will be on hand along with Gish Takeshi Endo of Walnut Creek, who worked as a broadcaster during the war, to discuss the documentary and answer questions.

This program is free to National Museum members or with general admission. For more information or to make reservations, call the Japanese American National Museum at (213) 625-0414.

The Japanese American National Museum is located at 100 North Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012. www.janm.org