Tokyo Bunka POW Camp
Radio Tokyo

Home     Camp Lists

Location:
Bunka Gakuin (Cultural Institute) Vocational School, Kanda Surugadai (Ochanomizu), Tokyo
Formerly a girls' school, changed to Surugadai Gijitsu Kenkyusho, "Surugadai Research Institute"

Also known as "Bunker Hill" camp by the POWs, this camp was kept "off the radar" as it does not appear in the official POW Camp chronological chart. On the full alpha roster for all Tokyo camps, most of the POWs are noted as being in the "HQ(sp)" or "HQ(B)" POW Camp in Tokyo, with a few (e.g. Hoblett, Odlin) penciled in with "HQ (Bunka)." A roster for the Bunka Camp was found at the Omori POW Camp in Tokyo, and the English version of that roster is presumed to be the one available below.

Satellite map
Aerial photo 1 (Mar. 1942) - photo 2 (Dec. 1947); courtesy of Japan Map Archives

Photos: Bunka Gakuin (Japanese; 2005-2008)


Timeline:
01 Dec 1943: Opened when 14 men were transferred to the camp
02 Dec 1943: Start of "Hinomaru Hour" broadcasts by Ikeda
10 Dec 1943: Cousens (ex Sano and Dai-Ichi Hotels ex Singapore) and Ince (ex Philippines) transferred to camp; Cousens was specifically requested by Vice Minister of Army, "for use in overseas propaganda."
08 Jan 1944: Cox, Pierson, Rickert and Wisener transferred to camp
28 Mar 1944: Kalbfleisch removed from camp due to his anti-Japanese attitude
Jul 1944: Dodds, Hobblitt, James G. Martinez, Ramon Martinez, Odlin and Smith transferred to camp
Fall 1944: Dooley transferred to camp
23 Aug 1945: Closed; POWs evacuated to Omori camp


Personnel:
Camp Commander: Lt. Junichi Hamamoto
Camp was controlled by the 8th Army, Gen. Seizo Asune and 2nd-in-command Tsuneishi.
* Takabune Hishikari - replaced Count Ikeda as camp director
* Major Kyohei Hifumi

Broadcast chief: Norisane Ikeda (was instructed to research ways to influence Pres. Roosevelt; also watch for news re wild fires on the US West Coast as a result of balloon bombs; was later replaced by Joe Tadaichi)

Interpreters:
* Tomatsu Murayama - Nisei; formerly at Imperial General HQ; said there were three Tokyo Roses and that Toguri was innocent.
* Kaji Domoto - took over Uno's position and tried to oust Hishihikari, but was himself demoted to interpreter
* Kazumaro "Buddy" Uno - from Salt Lake City, UT; supervised POW scriptwriters and broadcasters at Bunka Camp (see below for more info)


Ironically, Bunka Gakuin Cultural Institute was originally started as "a free and original school that is not bound by national school ordinances," providing an education based upon liberty. In 1943, it was closed due to its "anti-government ideology."


See here for related information on Radio Tokyo and personnel:
Officials and employees associated with Radio Tokyo
Work:
Japan Broadcasting Corp. (official name, Shadan Hojin Nippon Hoso Kyokai, aka NHK), in Uchi-Saiwai-cho, Tokyo (1948 aerial), utilized around 30 British, Australian, American and Dutch POWs; all were allowed free access at Radio Tokyo. Hundreds of Nisei (American- and Canadian-born ethnic Japanese) were also involved in foreign news monitoring.
"Zero Hour" broadcast - first started by the Japanese on Mar. 1, 1943; headed by George Mitsushio and involved only Cousens (Australian), Ince (American; aka Ted Wallace and Tokyo Tony) and Reyes (a Filipino Eurasian, who was considered a "friendly alien" by the Japanese). In Nov. 1943, the progam was extended to 75 minutes long. Iva Toguri, one of several Nisei (e.g. Ruth Hayakawa and Mieko Furuya Oki) called "Tokyo Rose," was chosen by Cousens to be a female announcer; Toguri formerly worked at Domei News. Cousens and Ince later left the broadcast due to illness.
"Hinomaru Hour" - a 30-min. daily broadcast; Kazumaro "Buddy" Uno was in charge. One program was called "Three Missing Men" (started by Provoo and written by Henshaw) and was about the lives of POWs. The name was changed to "Humanity Calls" on April 1, 1944.
"Postman Calls" - a 30-minute program begun on Sept. 18, 1944. Contained messages from POWs.

All the POWs except Cousens and Ince prepared for the broadcasts at the Bunka Camp (approx. five hours per day) and went to the "Hoso" (NHK) only for broadcasting (approx. 90 minutes).


Reports:
See below excerpts from Fujita's Secret Prison Diary and Keene's Treason on the Airwaves.
Also re activities at Bunka Camp, see Henshaw interview - list of POWs at Bunka Camp


Roster:
Roster (RG 407 Box 105) - British, Australian, American (incl. 7 civilians) and Dutch. Most Americans were captured on Wake Island (Henshaw, Rickert, and civilians Astorita, Quille, Shattles and Streeter).

Provoo and Streeter were considered pro-Japanese by the other POWs. Both were "arrested" as suspected traitors by Cousens and Cox at the end of the war. Cousens actually was later arrested in Manila.


Documents:
* Official Military Personnel File for John D Provoo - RG319
* LIFE - 1945-11-22 Tale of Treachery article
* Henshaw interview - list of POWs at Bunka Camp
* Subject Files Relating to Alleged Treasonable Utterances of Mark Lewis Streeter - RGs 60, 131, 204
Articles:
* Cousens trial
* Domoto at Bunka camp with Cousens 1946-09-17
* Domoto at Bunka camp with Cousens 1946-09-27
* Foumi Saisho testimony re Cousens


Books:
Henshaw, Calling America?
Foo: The Secret Prison Diary of Frank "Foo" Fujita (1993) - from Chapter 9
Re Radio Tokyo:
Tokyo Calling: Japanese Overseas Radio Broadcasting 1937-1945 by Robbins (1997)
Treason on the Airwaves: Three Allied Broadcasters on Axis Radio during World War II by Keene (2008)

LINKS:
* They Called Us Traitors by Mark Streeter
* EarthStation1.com's Radio Propaganda Page: "Orphan Ann" ("Tokyo Rose")

Radio Tokyo and the Zero Hour

Shortwave radio broadcasting overseas from NHK started in 1935, with the news programs written by Domei News from 1936. "Radio Tokyo" was first coined in Jan. 1941 and used for overseas broadcasts, predominantly for Japanese living abroad. Then from mid-1942, it was used by the Japanese military for propaganda purposes, headed by Army Lt. Col. Tsuneishi, who was placed in charge of Japanese Psychological Warfare.

The Japanese wanted to save face as the broadcasts for overseas consumption, being produced by their own people, did not have the quality as those produced by native speakers. Tsuneishi felt the best way to get propaganda out to the Allied forces in the Pacific region was to use native English speakers, and he set about to bring in key Allied POWs who could be so utilized. So in mid-1942, Nisei were "hired" to do the work -- work which they hoped would help to demoralize the American soldiers listening to the broadcasts by making them feel homesick and reduce their will to continue fighting. These Western-style broadcasts featuring jazz music could be called a first for Japan.

"Zero Hour" was first produced in March 1943 and became the most "notorious" of all the Radio Tokyo broadcasts. POWs who had some experience in broadcasting were chosen to be involved with "Zero Hour," and the program became quite popular, especially when the girls known as "Tokyo Rose" became announcers. The moniker will forever be associated with these propaganda broadcasts, yet such names as "Tokyo Rose" and "Madame Tojo" had already been heard over the radio during the first couple of years of the Pacific War.

After the POWs had arrived at Bunka Camp, the "Hinomaru Hour" broadcasts began in Dec. 1943, full of typical anti-American topics and comments, including a number of plays. The name of the program was changed to "Humanity Calls" in April 1944, and then in September, a new program called "Postman Calls" was started, which was primarily for POW messages. Interestingly, two Japanese who were involved with the new program, disguised themselves as Red Cross workers, and went to Kyushu POW camps to talk with Allied POWs and gather information for the broadcasts.

The broadcasts continued right up until the end of the war -- Aug. 14, 1945, was the last day of propaganda broadcasting by the Japanese and their captive foreign broadcasters.


Details about Bunka Camp

First-hand info from Fujita in Foo: The Secret Prison Diary of Frank "Foo" Fujita:

p192~

We loaded into the back of the truck along with two guards with fixed bayonets and were driven through the city of Tokyo, the world's third largest city, and taken to the Bunka district, about eight blocks north of the Imperial Palace. We stopped in front of a three-story brick building with a drive-through opening on the right side that was now partitioned off. We left the truck and were taken through a doorway in the partition and this opened out onto a large, black-top courtyard or compound that was about 150 feet 200 feet. Along the right side as we entered was a two-story stucco building that was one room wide, two rooms high and four rooms long.

Beyond that and running the full length across the back of the property was a three-story stucco building; one third of the lower floor was below ground level and was sealed off except two rooms at one end, which were the living quarters for an elderly Japanese couple who were the caretakers of the property and the camp galley. The top two floors consisted of a room on each end and extended eight feet farther out than the large center room, which was separated from them by a stairwell. Each stairwell opened out onto a landing that had steps going down to ground level, facing one another and lacking ten feet of meeting at the center of the building. The center room on the top floor extended out over the steps and was supported by arches. This was to be our home until the war's end. Before the war, this had been a girls' high school. The area is called Bunka Gakuin Kanda and we promptly nicknamed it "Bunker Hill."

We were lined up inside the compound and were ordered to stand at attention. Soon, a Jap army officer came out of the front building and addressed us. He said that we were here to put on a radio program and that our lives here would be very pleasant and enjoyable if we followed orders and did as we were told. Each one of us would participate and if we did not our lives would not be guaranteed.

The camp faced south and the upper east room was the officers' quarters; the upper west room was quarters for civilians and enlisted men. The large upper center room was to be our recreation room. On the second floor, the east room was the work room, the center room was our dining room. The galley was on the bottom floor behind the caretaker's quarters and the other rooms had the school equipment and supplies stored in them and were sealed. The benjo was at ground level at the west end of the building.

Per Keene in Treason on the Airwaves:

p100

Two more Allied prisoners of war arrived in Tokyo towards the end of October 1942. The American, Wallace Ince and Norman Reyes, a nineteen-year-old Filipino, had been captured at the fall of Corregidor. Both had been involved with Voice of Freedom, a clandestine radio station that continued pro-American broadcasts until the Philippines were overrun by the Japanese army. Reyes had read the station's last message, which was the American surrender. When Cousens met them they were emaciated, with hair cropped to the scalp and deeply sun burnt faces; the previous months in Japanese detention had taken a heavy toll. Ince and Reyes were placed with Cousens at the Dai Itchi. Some time in March 1943, a Japanese naval officer complained about sharing a hotel with enemy POWs, and as a consequence, the three were moved to the Sanno, a Japanese army hotel. Though further away from the radio station, their new quarters were comfortable. They remained at the Sanno until the end of 1943 when they were transferred into Bunka camp, a prison that had been created in Tokyo to hold the growing number of POWs being brought to broadcast in the capital.

Cousens' first broadcast from Tokyo was heard in Sydney on July 31, 1942. As the months passed, Cousens seems to have settled into a routine at the studio whereby he wrote broadcasts and news items, and advised Japanese broadcasting staff on how to improve their microphone techniques. Until mid-1944, when he became very ill with beriberi, he wrote radio scripts and continuity pieces that were heard on-air. In his own voice he read a great many POW messages, including a number to his wife in Sydney.


p103~

Bunka Prisoner of War Camp

In late 1943, faced with the flagging military initiative, the Imperial Army ordered that overseas radio propaganda should be stepped up by bringing in an expanded staff of POW broadcasters. In Tokyo, a designated prison, Bunka Camp, was created to house them. When Charles Cousens and Wallace Ince arrived in mid-December, Bunka held a dozen Allied prisoners. In the first week of January, four more were sent and by mid-1944 another half dozen, until in total there were about thirty men. They included three Englishmen, a couple of Australians and a Dutch citizen from Java. The remainder were captured Americans. All in some way or another were involved with radio broadcasting though most of their work was carried out in the camp under the supervision of civilians hired by the Japanese military. When required, on-air the prisoners were taken to Broadcast House.

The Bunka compound occupied a small block between two streets in the Tokyo suburb of Surugadai, in the Kanda District. It was three miles from Broadcast House and about eight blocks from the Imperial Palace. From the upstairs windows, looking south, the peak of Mt. Fujiyama rose majestically behind the city skyline. Before the war, the Women's Higher Normal School had occupied the site. The three-story buildings at the front and back were constructed around a small open square that had been the playground. The structure facing the street was of solid brick and a brick fence, low at the front but rising to nearly thirty feet behind the compound, enclosed the whole perimeter. A wide front entrance was boarded up, and people came and went through a small door cut in the main gate. The guardhouse stood inside the entrance so that from the street there was no indication that the walls enclosed a prisoner of war camp.

The civilian employees of the military and the Japanese guards who ran Bunka Camp occupied the building that looked onto the main road. The prisoners referred to it as the "Front Office." Uniformed members of the Imperial Guard manned the gate and the perimeter at night. Japanese civilians, in ordinary street clothes, ran the Front Office and the shortwave receiver that was located there. They also were responsible for overseeing the prisoners' scriptwriting in the back building and for making sure that the prisoners who were needed at Radio Tokyo were taken there on time. In the first months, the men were driven to Broadcast House, but later they went on foot, accompanied by a Bunka interpreter and a kempei. Within the front section of the complex, as well as dormitories, there were meeting rooms and even a small theatre where films could be screened on portable movie equipment. For example, a captured copy of Gone With the Wind was shown several times in 1944 to a mixed group of Japanese and prisoners of war, ostensibly so they could use the material for several shortwave broadcasts. As with all who saw the movie, the Bunka audience responded enthusiastically, though a number of the Japanese were disturbed by the scenes of Atlanta burning, perhaps a prefiguring sign for the fiery Hiroshima that would bring an end to their own war.

The quarters for the prisoners were at the rear of the compound. On the third floor, in the middle, there was a workroom with tables and chairs. There was also a small library of "looted literature" and books in English on Japanese culture and history that were supposed to prompt the POW scriptwriters to produce their daily quota of broadcast material. When Cousens arrived, all the prisoners slept in one room, but, always a stickler about rank and correct behavior, he insisted that enlisted men and officers were separated. Henceforth, the officers slept in a room to themselves on the east corner and the NCOS and the enlisted men bunked in together. In a parody of racial hierarchy, two unrelated Mexican Americans, Ramon and James Martinez, were quartered in a small room on their own. Perhaps not so curiously given that the prison was Japanese and ruled by Japanese guards. Frank Fujita, a mixed heritage Japanese American, was accommodated in the large room with the enlisted men. A long platform at about knee height ran the length of the dormitories, covered by a tatami straw runner. On it, prisoners lay side-byside wrapped in whatever coverings they could scrounge.

The floor below consisted of a workroom and a dining room; the latter furnished with two rows of tables the full length of the room. Officers sat separately at the end of one row and the men filled up the rest. The bottom floor, part of which was below ground level with covered windows, provided secure storage areas for supplies and old school equipment. An aged Japanese couple, the caretakers, who came to treat their upstairs neighbors with kindliness, occupied one ground-floor room. The cookhouse functioned in another at the very end of the building. The benjo, with a few squat toilets, was at the opposite end at the back of the building and there was a row of washbasins at the entrance.


p. 109~

The other key figure was George Kazumaro "Buddy" Uno, a Japanese American who had lived in Japan, off and on, since 1937. A complex character described by the American war correspondent Carl Mydans, in Shanghai, as "one of the most tortured souls" he had ever met because he was an "American trapped in Japanese uniform." A more accurate description of Uno, perhaps, is as a "marginal man." He was never at home in the United States where he had suffered scarifying racism as a boy growing up in Salt Lake City -- excluded from the swimming pool, even when he was with his Boy Scout troop, and forced to sit in segregated seating at the movies. Nor was he entirely accepted in Japan where his Japanese language was not strong though he had carved out a media career, interpreting America to the Japanese. In the middle of 1939, Uno was attached as civilian journalist to the Imperial Army in Shanghai. In March 1942, he was with the Japanese army at the fall of Corregidor where he interviewed captured American GIs for a volume of pro-Japanese testimonies published by the Japanese Press Bureau. Later, in Tokyo, he was attached to Bunka Camp, supervising the POW scriptwriters and broadcasters.

Several Bunka POWs described him as having established a "reign of terror" in the camp and "having no time for white men." Others claimed that Uno was "particularly obnoxious" to American GIs. In Cousens' view, he was a "menace" to the prisoners' safety. In Sydney, in 1946, however, Foumy Saisho testified that she had observed that Uno's antipathy to Cousens came only after the Australian had moved from Sanno Hotel to share the living arrangements of the other POWs in Bunka. Before that, Uno, who wished to be assigned to Radio Tokyo as a broadcaster, had sought Cousens' assistance. In the autumn of 1944, Uno was transferred from Bunka Camp to oversee the NHK shortwave in Manila.

In his own testimony after the war, "Buddy" Uno claimed that he had overseen a mild prison regimen. The routine, between seven o'clock rising and ten in the evening when the electric lights went off, consisted of work and leisure and was alternated by meals and a stint at the radio station, to which they were driven in "chartered automobiles." Sundays were given over to recreation. As Uno explained, on this day and "in groups of four or five, escorted by [Uno] or another Nisei interpreter, prisoners in civilian clothes visited parks, art galleries, museums, department stores, strolled along the Ginza, Tokyo's main street, and did shopping for personal needs."

Clearly, Uno exaggerated. However, it is true that all Bunka prisoners received wages -- not always paid regularly -- to the equivalent of payments made to Japanese of equal rank. Cousens noted in his interrogation that on several occasions the Bunka prisoners were taken by truck out of town for a picnic. They were also permitted to buy food from the small shops they passed as they walked back to camp from Broadcast House. Common purchases were synthetic coffee, curry powder and pepper, the latter presumably to spice up a bland, grain-based diet. Parkyns and Cousens both bought English books at a downtown bookstore, the latter making purchases at least four or five times. As well, he was able to use his own funds to pay for a civilian suit. While these activities might suggest conditions that were more comfortable than those endured by many POWs, Bunka was no holiday camp.

An American-educated Japanese, Domoto, took Uno's place and in early 1945 became the senior Japanese civilian in Bunka Camp. Sympathetic to the POWs and increasingly convinced that Japan would be defeated, Domoto struck up a friendship with Cousens and, with the limited means at their disposal, the two attempted to create a noticeably less harsh regime.