From “Tokyo Rose” to the China Initiative: Espionage and AAPIs

The trials of World War II radio broadcaster Iva Toguri d’Aquino, aka “Tokyo Rose,” weapons scientists Tsien Hsue-Shen and Wen Ho Lee, and others, shed light on the enduring perception of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) people as perpetual foreigners. These little known cases ignite a powerful discussion about injustices inflicted upon AAPIs under the guise of national security.

Special thanks to David Weinberg of JuryGroup for creating the slide presentation that accompanies the script.


TED LIEU: Racial profiling is both illegal and corrosive to our democracy. A particular form of this discrimination has disproportionately affected the AAPI community, which is the false belief that somehow Americans of Asian descent are disloyal. . . .

Over the years, multiple people who happen to be of Asian descent have been falsely accused by the Justice Department of espionage. The common thread in every one of these cases was a defendant with an Asian surname — and an innocent life that was turned upside down. . . .

The pervasive racial bias and targeting of Asian Americans is not new. Despite being part of the fabric of American society for centuries, Asian Americans are still sometimes viewed as “perpetual foreigners.” The racism has manifested itself at many points throughout U.S. history, including with the “Yellow Peril” hysteria; the mass lynching of Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles; the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; the incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II; the murder of Vincent Chin; the rise in COVID-related hate crimes against AAPIs; and the targeting of AAPI scientists and professors.

No person should be viewed by our government as more suspicious because of the individual’s race.



NAPABA National Convention, Las Vegas, Nevada, November 4, 2022