economic issues, a cultural committee was to bring university scholars together, and the Japan-U.S. Joint Committee on Scientific Cooperation was established, the first of its kind in American history. The implementing agency for this committee in the United States was the National Science Foundation (NSF), which established an office in Japan to facilitate communication; and the Japanese responded by naming appropriate agencies to manage the program on their side.
The program moved very slowly at first; funds had to be appropriated in both countries, members of the joint committee appointed, implementing offices established, and acceptable scientific projects identified for cooperation. In early 1963, the program was just starting when I joined the NSF in Washington, and I became the first permanent U.S. director of the program.
There were a number of problems. It was not easy to find projects that could be truly cooperative because the level of science in Japan in terms of laboratories and equipment was well below the level in the United States. Secondly and unexpectedly, President Kennedy’s science advisor, Jerome Wiesner, was concerned that science funded to achieve a “political” purpose was not subject to the same rigorous peer review process as other research projects, and hence might involve second-rate science. On the Japanese side, some professors initially seemed reluctant to become involved. Finally, too few American and Japanese scientists knew each other well enough to even think about cooperating.
To bring scientists in the same field together from the two countries, we funded many joint workshops in the belief that common interests and personal acquaintanceships would lead to joint projects. We financed a number of projects in common areas of competence, such as earthquake prediction, whale studies, and cancer epidemiology.
Ultimately, the program was recognized as a success in both the United States and Japan. Remarkably, it still exists today, although in a different form and without long-term funding for collaborative research. It has also served as a precedent and model for more specialized U.S.-Japan cooperative science activities that de-