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Encyclopedia > Japanese atomic program

During the 1930s, the scientific community in the world started to understand the power of nuclear energy, and the Empire of Japan, like many other governments, was made aware of the possibility of developing a weapon which utilized nuclear fission as the source of its energy. The central figure of the Japanese atomic program is Dr. Yoshio Nishina, who also was a friend of Niels Bohr, and a close associate of Albert Einstein. Dr. Nishina was a highly skilled world class scientist with excellent leadership qualities. He also co-authored the Klein-Nishina Formula, and the Nishina crater on the moon is named after him. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... now. ... For the generation of electrical power by fission, see Nuclear power plant An induced nuclear fission event. ... Yoshio Nishina Yoshio Nishina (仁科芳雄) (1890–1951) was a Japanese physicist. ... Niels (Henrik David) Bohr (October 7, 1885 – November 18, 1962) was a Danish physicist who made fundamental contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics. ... Einstein redirects here. ... The Klein-Nishina formula provides an accurate prediction of the angular distribution of x-rays and gamma-rays which are incident upon a single electron. ... Nishina is the remnant of a lunar crater named after the Japanese scientist Yoshio Nishina that is located in the southern hemisphere on the far side of the Moon. ...


Dr. Nishina established his own Laboratory at the Riken (the Institute for Physical and Chemical Research) in 1931 to study high-energy physics. He built his first 26 inch cyclotron in 1936, and another 60 inch 220 ton cyclotron in 1937. In 1938 Japan also purchased a cyclotron from the University of California, Berkeley. 1931 (MCMXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link is to a full 1931 calendar). ... Particles explode from the collision point of two relativistic (100 GeV per nucleon) gold ions in the STAR detector of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. ... A pair of Dee electrodes with loops of coolant pipes on their surface at the Lawrence Hall of Science. ... 1936 (MCMXXXVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ... 1937 (MCMXXXVII) was a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... 1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... The University of California, Berkeley (also known as UC Berkeley, Berkeley, Cal, and by other names, see below) is the oldest and flagship campus of the ten-campus University of California system. ...


Dr. Nishina knew and understood the military potential of nuclear weapons, and was worried that the Americans were working on a nuclear weapon, which could be—and eventually was—used against Japan. About the same time, in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt started the first investigations into fission weapons in the United States, which eventually evolved into the massive Manhattan Project (the very laboratory from which Japan purchased its own cyclotron would become one of the major sites for weapons research). Dr. Nishina tried to match the U.S. research, and promoted the development of a nuclear weapon. In October 1940, Lt. General Takeo Yasuda of the Japanese army finally decided that such a weapon was feasible and practical, and the Japanese atomic program started in July 1941 under the guidance of Dr. Nishina. 1939 (MCMXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will take you to calendar). ... FDR redirects here. ... The Manhattan Project resulted in the development of the first nuclear weapons, and the first-ever nuclear detonation, at the Trinity test of July 16, 1945. ... 1940 (MCMXL) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1940 calendar). ... This article is about the year. ...

Contents

Atomic program of the Japanese Navy

A separate atomic program of the Japanese navy was also in progress in 1942. This project, called F-Go, was headed by Prof. Bunsaku Arakatsu, a lecturer at the Kyoto University, who studied under Albert Einstein. Arakatsu built his own cyclotron. His team included Hideki Yukawa, the first Japanese physicist to receive a Nobel Prize in 1949. 1942 (MCMXLII) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1942 calendar). ... The Clocktower Kyoto University (Japanese: 京都大学, Kyōto Daigaku; abbreviated to 京大, Kyōdai) in Kyoto, Japan, is the second oldest university and one of the leading research universities in the country. ... Hideki Yukawa Hideki Yukawa FRSE (湯川 秀樹, January 23, 1907 - September 8, 1981) was a Japanese theoretical physicist and the first Japanese to win the Nobel prize. ... Nobel Prize medal. ... 1949 (MCMXLIX) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1949 calendar). ...


The program of the Navy initially aimed only to harness nuclear energy as an energy source to reduce the dependence on oil and to relieve the permanent shortage thereof, as it was thought that a weapon would not be able to be developed for wartime use (in this respect, it was very similar to the German nuclear energy project going on at the same time). However, as the tide of the war turned against Japan, the goal of making a nuclear weapon became a priority. The Japanese Navy launched a search for uranium throughout the dwindling empire. The Japanese military took what Nishina had learned and expanded the program, for instance, building five improved gaseous diffusion separators based on the smaller, single unit developed in Nishina’s effort. What happened to the separators, described by Col. Tatsusaburo Suzuki, who coordinated the effort for the army, is not known. But the Navy lacked time and material, and despite paying huge amounts for uranium on the Chinese black market and arranging for Nazi uranium to be shipped by submarine, it is generally assumed that they failed to produce a nuclear weapon. Exactly how far the Navy project got is a matter of debate. There have been some who contend that a prototype was developed, perhaps using Nazi supplied Uranium or Plutonium derived from same, and was detonated on a small island off the coast of what is today North Korea, only weeks prior to the bombing of Hiroshima. Natural olive oil Synthetic motor oil Oil, in a general sense, is a [[great thing it produces cheese ]] that is not miscible with water, and is in a liquid state at ambient temperatures. ... The German experimental nuclear pile at Haigerloch The German nuclear energy project was an endeavor by scientists during World War II in Nazi Germany to develop nuclear energy and an atomic bomb for practical use. ...


Development

The Japanese programs' source of uranium ore was Korea, which had been under Japanese control since 1905. Dr. Nishina investigated a number of methods for enrichment of uranium, and decided that the gaseous diffusion method would be most worth pursuing. However there is no evidence that production plants of the size used by the Manhattan Project were ever constructed, and the Manhattan Project plants, for all of their vastness, were only able to produce enough material for three bombs by the war's end. Korea (Korean: 한국 or 조선, see below) is a geographic area, civilization, and former state situated on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. ... 1905 (MCMV) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... -1...


Japan disclosed its program to its ally Germany, and requested assistance. It is not known how much material Japan received from Germany, but at least one shipment that was sent to Japan by a German submarine was intercepted. German UC-1 class World War I submarine A model of Günther Priens Unterseeboot 47 (U-47), German WWII Type VII diesel-electric hunter-killer (SSK) submarine Inside of the Argonaute, showing the typical obstructed, tiny space of a post-WWII diesel attack submarine. ...


This submarine, Unterseeboot 234 (U-234) was sent to Japan in 1945 to deliver 560 kg of unprocessed uranium oxide for the Japanese program, as well as a disassembled Me-262 jet fighter and parts for some German designed missiles (which would have been of little use for a primitive nuclear weapon). Two Japanese military officials and a number of German experts were also on board. The nuclear cargo was labeled "U-235," perhaps as a mislabeling of the submarine name, or perhaps in reference to the fissile isotope of uranium, uranium-235. It is extremely unlikely, though, that it was truly 560 kg of uranium-235—this would have been some eight times more of the rare element than was produced by the entire U.S. effort, and enough for Nazi Germany to have built many atomic bombs of their own with great ease. It is more likely that the uranium was un- or partially-enriched uranium oxide (which naturally has over 99% uranium 238). The submarine was ordered to surrender on May 10, 1945, two days after the overall German surrender, by Admiral Dönitz. To avoid capture, the two Japanese officials, Lieutenant Commander Hideo Tomonaga and Lieutenant Commander Genzo Shoji, committed suicide and were buried at sea the next day. The submarine was boarded by US forces on May 14 and the cargo fell into U.S. hands. Unterseeboot 234 (U-234) was a WWII German Type X submarine (U-boat), designed as a mine-layer, whose first and only mission into enemy territory consisted of the attempted delivery of uranium and other German advanced weapons technology to the Empire of Japan. ... 1945 (MCMVL) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1945 calendar). ... The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) was the first operational jet powered aircraft. ... Uranium-235 is an isotope of uranium that differs from the elements other common isotope, uranium-238, by its ability to cause a rapidly expanding fission chain reaction. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... May 10 is the 130th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (131st in leap years). ... 1945 (MCMVL) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1945 calendar). ... Karl Dönitz (IPA pronunciation:  ); September 16, 1891–December 24, 1980) was a German naval leader, famous for his command of the Kriegsmarine during World War II and for his twenty-day term as President of Germany after Adolf Hitlers suicide. ... Burial at Sea for two victims of a Japanese submarine attack on the US aircraft carrier Liscome Bay, November 1943 Burial at sea describes the procedure of disposing of human remains in the ocean. ... May 14 is the 134th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (135th in leap years). ...


Some reports claim that the 560 kg of uranium oxide was enough to build two atomic bombs, but this would mean that it was substantially enriched (and would have also meant that Germany could have developed its own bomb with it, which it did not). That amount of unenriched uranium, if enriched to around the 90% needed for an atomic bomb, would provide around 4 kg of bomb-grade material, far less than needed for an atomic bomb (the "Little Boy" uranium weapon dropped on Hiroshima used over 60 kg of uranium-235). If put into a reactor, however, it could have potentially been used to breed plutonium, perhaps enough to use for a weapon if the program had been larger. A postwar Little Boy casing mockup. ...


American bombing raids disrupted the development of the genshi bakudan, and both raw material and equipment was destroyed at the Institute for Physical and Chemical Research (Riken). To avoid further bombing, the Riken staff began to remove the remaining equipment out of Tokyo, and some have alleged that the project was relocated to Konan (now called Hungnam, in North Korea) early in 1945, although there is no substantive evidence to support this claim. This region was closer to the source of ore, in less danger of attack than mainland Japan, and also a major industrial area in Asia. However, the move supposedly delayed the development by a critical three months. Konan, today known as Hungnam, was captured by the Russian army in August 1945, and is currently within North Korea. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, together with the Soviet declaration of war, led to the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945. Hungnam is a port city on the Eastern coast of North Korea on the Sea of Japan. ... 1945 (MCMVL) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1945 calendar). ... The short forms Red Army and RKKA refer to the Workers and Peasants Red Army, (in Russian: Рабоче-Крестьянская Красная Армия - Raboche-Krestyanskaya Krasnaya Armiya), the armed forces first organized by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War in 1918. ... 1945 (MCMVL) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1945 calendar). ... The Fat Man mushroom cloud resulting from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rises 18 km (11 mi, 60,000 ft) into the air from the hypocenter. ... August 6 is the 218th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (219th in leap years), with 147 days remaining. ... August 9 is the 221st day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (222nd in leap years), with 144 days remaining. ... August 15 is the 227th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (228th in leap years), with 138 days remaining. ...


Aftermath

After the war, the U.S. occupation forces found a total of four cyclotrons, which they judged to be part of the weapons programs. (Some have mistakenly claimed there were five cyclotrons, but one was actually a mass spectrometer and referred to by some Japanese scientists at the time as "the baby cyclotron".) Cyclotrons can be used for electromagnetic uranium enrichment as mass spectrometers, but by themselves would not be useful as production facilities. In the United States, large cyclotrons at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory were used to develop even more massive Calutron machines at the Oak Ridge facility, which were used for the bulk of the electromagnetic enrichment, but the Japanese cyclotrons would have been much smaller than even the prototype American machines. The Japanese cyclotrons were then dumped into Tokyo harbor by the U.S. Army, and many American scientists protested this act after the fact, insisting that the cyclotrons by themselves couldn't be used to make atomic weapons. A pair of Dee electrodes with loops of coolant pipes on their surface at the Lawrence Hall of Science. ... Isotope separation is the process of concentrating specific isotopes of a chemical element by removing other isotopes, for example separating natural uranium into enriched uranium and depleted uranium. ... Mass spectrometry is a technique for separating ions by their mass-to-charge (m/z) ratios. ... The Berkeley Lab is perched on a hill overlooking the Berkeley central campus and San Francisco Bay. ... Schematic diagram of uranium isotope separation in the calutron. ... Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is a multiprogram science and technology national laboratory managed for the United States Department of Energy by UT-Battelle, LLC. ORNL is located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, near Knoxville. ... Tokyo , literally Eastern capital)   is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, the home of the Japanese Imperial Family, and the de facto[1] capital of Japan. ...


In many ways, the Japanese program is more similar to the abortive German atomic program than it was to the massive Allied bomb program. It is worth noting that by comparison, the Manhattan Project was one of the largest expenditures for the American side in World War II ($1.8 billion in 1945 dollars, with radar R&D costing some $3 billion), involved over 30 different research and production sites, and employed 150,000 employees, including numerous Nobel Laureates. Even with this investment, the USA was only able to produce three atomic devices by August 1945.


Current nuclear activities in Japan

Since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan is a staunch opponent of nuclear arms on all government levels. However, Japan does make extensive use of nuclear energy in nuclear reactors, generating a significant percentage of the electricity in Japan. Japan has the third largest nuclear energy production after the U.S. and France, and plans to produce over 40% of its electricity using nuclear power by 2010. Significant amounts of Plutonium are created as a by-product of the energy production, and Japan had 4.7 tons of plutonium in December 1995. Japan also possesses an indigenous uranium enrichment plant [1] - the same plant, or a secretly constructed plant using similar technology, could be used to make highly enriched uranium suitable for weapons. Japan has also developed the M-5 three-stage solid fuel rocket, similar in design to the U.S. LG-118A Peacekeeper ICBM. While there are currently no known plans in Japan to produce nuclear weapons, it has been argued Japan has the technology, raw materials, and the capital to produce nuclear weapons within one year if necessary, and some analysts consider it a de facto nuclear state for this reason. [2] Nuclear power station at Leibstadt, Switzerland. ... General Name, Symbol, Number plutonium, Pu, 94 Chemical series actinides Group, Period, Block n/a, 7, f Appearance silvery white Atomic mass (244) g/mol Electron configuration [Rn] 5f6 7s2 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 24, 8, 2 Physical properties Phase solid Density (near r. ... 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Enriched uranium is uranium whose uranium-235 content has been increased through the process of isotope separation. ... M-V rocket with the ASTRO-E satellite (Febr. ... Test launch of a Peacekeeper ICBM by the 576 Flight Test Squadron, Vandenberg AFB, CA (USAF) The LG-118A Peacekeeper was a land-based ICBM deployed by the United States starting in 1986. ... A Minuteman III missile soars after a test launch. ... This is a list of countries with nuclear weapons. ...


Some argue that there is little military advantage for Japan to develop nuclear weapons as China, its main potential adversary, has too much landmass to easily deter. A few thermonuclear weapons would largely destroy Japan, but China could absorb a similar attack. Japan is safer under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. [3] Some analysts, however, fear that Japan may abandon its anti-nuclear arms stance in the face of North Korea's development of nuclear weapons as part of a wider nuclear arms race in eastern Asia, especially after that nation's nuclear test on October 9, 2006. A landmass is a large extent of land. ... Deterrence theory is a defensive strategy developed after World War II and used throughout the Cold War. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945 lifted nuclear fallout some 18 km (60,000 feet) above the epicenter. ... The United States was the first country in the world to successfully develop nuclear weapons, and is the only country to have used them in war against another nation. ... The 2006 North Korean nuclear test was the detonation of a nuclear device conducted on October 9, 2006 by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. ... October 9 is the 282nd day of the year (283rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Disputed reports about the nuclear program in Konan in 1945

Very little is known about the size of the alleged atomic program in Konan though it is conventionally thought to have been small in comparison with the successful U.S. effort. In 1946, a journalist named David Snell working for the Atlanta Constitution wrote a sensationalist story which indicated that Japan had in fact successfully developed and tested a nuclear weapon in Konan. Snell was a former reporter, soon to become Life Magazine correspondent assigned to the 24th Criminal Investigation Detachment in Korea. He interviewed a Japanese officer who said he had been in charge of counter intelligence at the Konan project before the fall of Japan. 1946 (MCMXLVI) was a common year starting on Tuesday. ... The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is the only major daily newspaper of Atlanta and metro Atlanta. ...


According to the officer, who used a pseudonym in the article because he was afraid of retaliation by occupation forces, the program was able to assemble a complete nuclear weapon in a cave in Konan and detonate it on August 12, 1945 on an unmanned ship nearby. Reportedly, the weapon produced a mushroom shaped cloud with a diameter of about 100 m (the first American bomb, "Trinity", had a mushroom cloud some three times the size of that), and also destroyed several ships in the test area. To the observers 20 mi (32 km) away, the bomb was brighter than the rising sun. The officer then claimed that the Russian Army, which captured Konan in November 1945 after some of the last fighting in the war, dismantled the Japanese project and shipped it and some of its scientists taken prisoner back to the Soviet Union. August 12 is the 224th day of the year (225th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1945 (MCMVL) was a common year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1945 calendar). ... Italian ship-rigged vessel Amerigo Vespucci in New York Harbor, 1976 A ship is a large, sea-going watercraft. ... An early stage in the Trinity fireball. ... The atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945 A mushroom cloud is a distinctive mushroom-shaped cloud of smoke, flame, or debris resulting from a very large explosion. ...


Most mainstream historians dispute that the Japanese program got close to developing an atomic bomb but US intelligence took the possibility very seriously after Snell's article was published and continued to question repatriated Japanese from the Konan area about the project.


A 1985 book by Robert Wilcox reprinted the Snell interview as a basis for investigating the Japanese WWII nuclear efforts. In addition to detailing the known Japanese army and navy efforts, the book cites numerous intelligence reports and interviews which indicated the Japanese might have had an atomic program at Konan. It also gave evidence that the Japanese navy, taking up the atomic project after Nishina’s Riken had been destroyed, increased the Japanese efforts to make a weapon. The book, prefaced by Derek deSolla Price, Avalon professor of the history of science at Yale University, who endorsed it, was both panned and praised. Price wrote, “No longer can we maintain that a Japanese bomb just couldn’t have happened. Obviously it ‘nearly’ did. The only questions are how near and what does it do to our judgment on the one case we have of atomic warfare.” James L. Stokesbury, author of A Short History of World War II, wrote: “I had no idea the Japanese were working as seriously on an atomic bomb...this has to modify our perception of one of the crucial issues of the war.”


A review by a Department of Energy employee in the journal Military Affairs degraded it: The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government responsible for energy policy and nuclear safety. ...

Journalist Wilcox' book describes the Japanese wartime atomic energy projects. This is a laudable, in that it illuminates a little-known episode; nevertheless, the work is marred by Wilcox' seeming eagerness to show that Japan created an atomic bomb. Tales of Japanese atomic explosions, one a fictional attack on Los Angeles, the other an unsubstantiated account of a post-Hiroshima test, begin the book. (Wilcox accepts the test story because the author [Snell], "was a distinguished journalist"). The tales, combined with Wilcox' failure to discuss the difficulty of translating scientific theory into a workable bomb, obscure the actual story of the Japanese effort: uncoordinated laboratory-scale projects which took paths least likely to produce a bomb.

In the historical journal Isis, two historians of science said only of Wilcox's work that his thesis stood "on the flimsiest and most unconvincing of grounds," and surmised that the hidden agenda of such conspiracy theories was "to furnish a new exculpation for America's dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki."


An article published in the journal Intelligence and National Security in 1998, based on a review of many of the same documents used by Wilcox, and more, came to a similar conclusion. The article cites several US military intelligence documents and Japanese corporate records of the Nitchitsu firm that ran most of the industry in Hungnam and found no substantive evidence of any nuclear research program existing there during the war.


See also

The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter. ... A nuclear fireball lights up the night in a United States nuclear test. ... This is a list of countries with nuclear weapons. ... This is a list of nuclear weapons ordered by state and then type within the states. ... Preparation for an underground nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site in the 1980s. ...

References

  • Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (New York, Simon and Schuster, 1986).
  • Walter E. Grunden, Secret Weapons & World War II: Japan in the Shadow of Big Science (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2005).
  • Walter E. Grunden, "Hungnam and the Japanese Atomic Bomb: Historiography of a Postwar Myth," Intelligence and National Security [Great Britain] 1998 13(2): 32-60.

Disputed references

  • Robert K. Wilcox, Japan's Secret War: Japan's Race Against Time to Build Its Own Atomic Bomb (New York: Morrow, 1985; reprinted with new information by Marlowe, New York, 1995).
  • David Snell, "Japan Developed Atom Bomb; Russia Grabbed Scientists," Atlanta Constitution (2 Oct 1946), available online at a conspiracy-theory website, [4].

Criticism cited

  • Roger M. Anders, Review of Japan's Secret War, in Military Affairs 50:1 (Jan 1986): 56-57, quote from 57.
  • R.W. Home and Morris F. Low, "Postwar Scientific Intelligence Missions to Japan," Isis 84:3 (Sep 1993): 527-537, quote from 528fn3.
  • "Newsman Says Japanese Had Atom Bomb and Russians Now Hold the Inventors," New York Times (3 Oct 1946), 22.

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Japanese atomic program Summary (2690 words)
The Japanese atomic program was a program by the Empire of Japan to develop a genshi bakudan (sometimes incorrectly called genzai bakudan), an atomic bomb during World War II.
A separate atomic program of the Japanese navy was also in progress in 1942.
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9 led to the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945.
Japanese atomic program: Information from Answers.com (2600 words)
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and August 9, together with the Soviet declaration of war, led to the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945.
The Japanese cyclotrons were then dumped into Tokyo harbor by the U.S. Army, and many American scientists protested this act after the fact, insisting that the cyclotrons by themselves couldn't be used to make atomic weapons.
Most mainstream historians dispute that the Japanese program got close to developing an atomic bomb but US intelligence took the possibility very seriously after Snell's article was published and continued to question repatriated Japanese from the Konan area about the project.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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