centers at major U.S. locations. The work there is first class, and most of the results are published in U.S. journals. However, the Japanese carefully look at the results for possible applications to their product lines.

When JTEC was started, one of the preconceptions was that it would be extremely difficult to get useful information from the Japanese since "they are secretive" and because the language barrier provided them with an easy excuse for not telling visiting Americans about the important things going on. We found that the opposite is true. Like most researchers, the Japanese are eager to share their work and in most cases go far beyond what would be expected from comparable visits to U.S. companies. To be sure, good advance work is necessary to ensure visits to the right places. One has to prepare himself/herself to ask the right questions, but rarely has a JTEC team not been given access. The hardest visits to arrange were to U.S. subsidiaries in Japan. They operated more like U.S. companies in America. Language is really not a problem; since we had at least one Japanese-speaking member of the JTEC technical team, more information was exchanged and it enhanced the results.

JTEC is viewed very positively in Japan since the Japanese have been engaged in programs similar to JTEC on a much larger scale. They believe in the importance of gathering information and are very good at it. As we saw earlier in Table 1, the trade balance with the United States in information gathering is roughly three to one; that is, Japan buys three times more information from the United States than the United States buys from Japan. In terms of people exchange, the numbers are even more skewed. For every ten Japanese scientists or engineers visiting the United States for an extended time, only one American goes to Japan. It is so badly out of balance that the Japanese government even funds Americans to spend time in Japanese laboratories.

Although written by over 120 scientists and engineers from all walks of life, the JTEC studies convey an overall impression of Japanese research and development that is scarcely subject to misinterpretation: Japan is currently engaged in a systematic effort to achieve parity with, or superiority over, the United States in virtually every technology that is of current or potential economic significance. It is not unlike that of U.S. determination in the 1950s and 1960s to be best in defense. In order to achieve this goal, the U.S. government supported such technologies as computers, microelectronics, radar, and space. The mechanisms by which Japan has pursued its strategy, and the extent to which it is succeeding, should be of great interest to policymakers in the United States and in the rest of the world. The Japanese make no secret of their objectives or methods. Quite to the contrary, they offer the rest of the world a possible blueprint for the pursuit of economic prosperity through thoughtful, long-range investment in science and technology.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement