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Home > Media Reiews > Weekly Review Last Updated: 14:57 03/09/2007
Weekly Review #59: August 5, 2002

Motives Behind AP News Item Suspect

John de Boer (University of Tokyo & GLOCOM Platform)

Every year, during the first week of August, Japan mourns the victims of the atomic bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Prayers are offered along with pledges to ensure that the horror experienced on August 6 and August 9 1945 are never repeated again. Simultaneously, in other sectors voices can be heard that speak of the necessity and importance of having dropped these two bombs on Japan. Justifications vary, however, they allude to the notion that this was the only way to stop Japan.

This year, new evidence has surfaced verifying the fact that the Japanese Imperial Army had a nuclear weapons program during WWII. On 3 August, the Associated Press published a report claiming that the wife of a Japanese scientist named Kazuo Kuroda had recently returned classified World War II documents on Japan's plans to develop an atomic bomb to Japan.

According to these sources, Kazuo Kuroda, who was Professor Emeritus at the University of Arkansas, had kept the documents secret until his death last year in the US. The documents brought to light by Mrs. Kuroda contain 23 pages of evidence with diagrams and writing describing Japan's atomic bomb research program. AP indicates that the text was handwritten by a military officer who interviewed Yoshio Nishina, a scientist who headed the atomic bomb development team at the Riken Institute, which still exists in Saitama, just north of Tokyo. Previous to this disclosure it was believed that all documents related to this project had been destroyed under order after Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945.

While this material is of extreme value, one cannot help but question why it was released and published in the international press just two days before the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Considering that Kazuo Kuroda passed away last year, the material could have been disclosed and reported on at an earlier date. Obviously there is an issue of relevancy involved in the item's publication date, however, one cannot help but be suspect about the motives behind the timing of this article.

Although it is far from clear whether or not the Imperial Army was close to developing the weapon or if the bomb would have been a powerful one, the immediate conclusion that one draws from this article just two days before the anniversary is the following: "if the US didn't use the bombs, Japan would have used them".

This is a dangerous and unfortunate conclusion to reach because it attempts to justify the killing of over 210,000 people based on speculation. It is hoped that for the sake of the dead and journalistic integrity that my suspicion regarding the timing of this news story is unwarranted.


  • "Report: Japan Bomb Papers Returned", the Associated Press, 3 August 2002.
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