The critical issue here is the design and manufacture of high technology products. Japan is now number three in the world in exports, and around 75 percent of these exports are high technology manufactured items. It is primarily this export activity that leads to Japan's tremendous positive balance of payments situation, around half of which arises from purchases by the United States. It is scarcely surprising that there exists increasing interest in the United States in studying all aspects of Japanese production.

THE RISE OF STUDIES OF JAPANESE TECHNOLOGY

While there is general agreement that the loss of U.S. high technology industries is undesirable for the nation, this opinion is not universal. It has even been proposed that on some sufficiently grand economic scale this does not matter since the U.S. consumer gets a better deal by buying the (better value) Japanese items. Whatever the merits of this interesting view, it is not one liable to find favor with the auto worker who has lost his job or with his representative in the U.S. Congress. For this and other reasons, it will not be the view taken here. Local and short-term and inwardly directed as the view may be, it seems reasonable to assume that the loss of high tech industry matters. The concerns with Japan vis-à-vis the United States in this arena therefore appear entirely justifiable, and consequently increasing Japanese studies may also be justifiable. Obviously the use of the word "may" in the previous sentence is somewhat pejorative. Haven't Japanese studies yielded valuable information in the past? Yes they certainly have, and a few representative examples will follow from previous JTEC (Japanese Technology Evaluation Center) studies 1 with which I have been personally involved. Such information spans many areas—technical, financial, organizational, and political—and some of it has proved quite surprising. For instance, it is well known that Japan employs a highly developed industrial policy. The complex interrelations that exist in connection with the sensor industry (see Figure 1), for example, are also quite representative of many other sectors. Of particular interest is the important role played by high technology industrial trade organizations, of which there are no fewer than 43 (see Table 1).

Among these organizations JEIDA (Japanese Electronic Industries Development Association) is one of the largest, and it plays an important role in many areas, not least in the sensor industry. For example, many of the (roughly 300) Japanese sensor manufacturers maintain permanent membership on one or more of the five JEIDA sensor subcommittees (see Figure 2). These committees have approximately 20 members each and meet around

1  

JTEC reports may be obtained from Loyola College in Maryland, 4501 North Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21210-2699.



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