A Deseret News story has become big news nationally - in Japan.
Last week, the Deseret News reported that once-secret Army documents said the United States considered using nerve gas against Japan at the end of World War II - but development of the atomic bomb eliminated the need for it."The story reached there the day before the anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. So many newspapers gave it big headlines," said Hiroshi Sekiguchi, Washington bureau chief for the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, which has 4 million readers with its sister Chunichi Shimbun in Nagoya.
His newspapers were among numerous Japanese media that asked the Deseret News for copies of its story and the once top-secret documents that talked about nerve gas plans.
While an Associated Press rewrite of the story was picked up by only a few U.S. newspapers, "Most newspapers in Japan used it, and used it big," said Misuzu Tamaru, an anchorwoman for TV Asahi, a Japanese network.
She added, "It might bring feelings toward Americans of `Hey, are they crazy? They used the atomic bomb and considered using nerve gas too.' "
She and a camera crew even traveled to Utah Wednesday to interview Deseret News Associate City Editor Chuck Gates - who speaks Japanese - about how the newspaper found the story. They also worked on other stories in the state.
The Deseret News found the story by accident as it obtained documents about chemical arms tests at Dugway Proving Ground. One justifying increased testing during the Korean War put it in historical context by mentioning plans to possibly use nerve agents against Japan. Gas was seen as way to reduce U.S. casualties when attacking cavelike defenses of Japanese soldiers.
Sekiguchi said events marking the anniversary of the atomic bomb always attract huge crowds and are big news in Japan. He said the new revelations added to annual debate about whether the atomic bomb was justified and whether the United States owes the Japanese an apology for it.
"This was the first time that it was reported that the United States considered use of chemical arms against Japan," he said. "That may rewrite the history books there."
Sekiguchi said the story also adds to controversy in Japan about its own use of chemical and biological arms in World War II against China.
Evidence existed that Japan used them against China and some prisoners of war from other countries during World War II.
Sekiguchi said Japan is still trying to come to grips with that and other reports of massacres of Chinese people.