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Japanese Bomb

July 25, 1993

In response to "Japan Shifts Its Stand on Ruling Out A-Bomb," July 9:

It is little known but the Japanese had an atomic bomb program during World War II, and were planning to use it against America on Saipan or even deliver it to Los Angeles or San Francisco harbors via submarine.

The program started in 1942 and continued until the end of the war. At least one Nobel Prize winner, Hideki Yukawa, was involved, as was Yoshio Nishina, a colleague of Niels Bohr. Had the Germans and Japanese not been so racist--neither liked the other--they might have collaborated and actually come up with the bomb. As it was, the last submarine to leave Kiel, Germany, as Germany was surrendering, had on it a German jet plane and 2,000 pounds of uranium, which the Japanese had been asking for throughout the war. The submarine surrendered to America, however.

I researched this heavily for my 1985 book, "Japan's Secret War" (Morrow). There is evidence to suggest that the Japanese might even have developed some sort of atomic device in North Korea in the last days before Russia took over their plants there. Russia, of course, was the next country, after America, to explode a bomb.

ROBERT K. WILCOX

Sherman Oaks

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