September 12, 2020
There have been rumors throughout the years after World War II that Japan was actually not far behind America’s Manhattan Project in developing an atomic bomb. Conspiracy theorists and supposed witnesses have been debunked over the years, but mounting evidence from the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, the UK’s Independent to Japan’s liberal newspaper Asahi have all pointed to two Japanese nuclear weapons programs called “Project Ni-Go” and “Project F-Go.”
Days before Japan’s surrender to Allied forces, Imperial Command ordered the destruction of all information pertaining to Ni-Go and F-Go. However, many Imperial scientists at Japan’s Institute of Physical and Chemical Research thought it was a waste to burn such knowledge and gave the documents to a Japanese scientist named Kazuo Kuroda.
Kuroda shared his knowledge of the nuclear device Japan was developing and the United States in-turn confiscated most of his documents and gave him the same immigration visa future head of NASA Wernher von Braun and 1,600 other Nazi rocket scientists received from the U.S. government before working for NASA and JPL during Operation Paperclip.
Kuroda later became a professor at the University of Arkansas and made some impressive scientific discoveries in plutonium and nuclear chain reaction theories for his new home country. He later passed away peacefully in his home on April 16, 2001, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Upon his death, it was discovered Kuroda hid more vital aspects and information about the Japanese nuclear program during his debriefing by the OSS (CIA) before immigrating to the United States in 1949. His wife gave the surviving documents back to the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, according to The Independent.
The returned documents included a diagram of Japan’s atomic bomb and scientists found the device would have worked.
It was discovered through these documents, the Japanese had already accomplished the vital steps necessary to construct a working atomic bomb. The Japanese were able to extract weapons-grade uranium from uranium gas using ultra-high heat. There were several ways to extract weapons-grade uranium from uranium gas, it could be heated, filtered, spun at high speeds, or subjected to strong electromagnetic fields.
All ways were expensive and required massive amounts of resources, however, America’s Manhattan Project actually tried every way possible, due to their unlimited resources. The Japanese gambled on one way, thermal diffusion (ultra-high heat) and they succeeded.
Imperial scientists were actually ready to go. Construction of an atomic bomb was underway, but they only had between 8,000 to 11,000 lbs. of uranium dioxide, on paper, enough to make 1 ½ atomic bombs. For the remainder, the Japanese asked their ally, Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler himself agreed to supply the Japanese with uranium dioxide under one condition.
The Japanese would share the atomic bomb with the Third Reich. The Japanese agreed and Hitler sent Japan 1,200 lbs. of uranium dioxide and the latest German radar technology on U-234.
Imperial Command planned on detonating an atomic bomb in the middle of the American Pacific Fleet via submarine. It is unclear what the Japanese were planning to do with the second possible atomic bomb.
The Germans were aware of the ingredients needed to construct an atomic bomb. Many scientists in America’s Manhattan Project were Germans who fled the country after Hitler came into power. However, the Nazis never made it past the initial planning stages and felt creating an atomic bomb would be a “waste of resources.” They did compile the ingredients necessary for a bomb they would eventually create at a later date.
Unfortunately for Imperial Japan, U-234 surfaced and surrendered to American forces on May 14, 1945, on its way to Japan after receiving orders from Admiral Dönitz. Two Japanese officers inside the U-boat committed suicide, according to the Los Angeles Times.
What Americans found in U-234 shocked them. They always assumed Nazi Germany would be ahead in developing an atomic bomb, but it was actually Imperial Japan. It is believed the Americans shipped the German uranium dioxide to Manhattan Project’s Oak Ridge for diffusion.
Feature Images via Kyodo News & Nevada Department of Veterans Services