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Maximizing U.S. Interests in Science and Technology Relations with Japan
that year. 4 Many U.S. manufacturing companies were hampered by outdated strategies, short time horizons, technological shortcomings in product development and production, business government antagonism, and other ills. 5
The Japanese economy and Japanese companies, on the other hand, were on a long and impressive winning streak. Possessing a highly skilled and cooperative work force and an effective government-industry partnership, including financial and regulatory structures, Japanese industry appeared to move from strength to strength during the 1970s and 1980s. Japan's major manufacturing industries became leading world exporters, with gains in the export of high-technology products originally developed in the United States especially conspicuous. Japanese companies were seen as embodiments of management skill and insight, and Japan's economic and industrial policymaking appeared to represent a superior model of government facilitated capitalist development. 6
Reflecting growing admiration and anxiety over Japan's advances in high-technology industries, the U.S.-Japan science and technology relationship began to attract increasing attention from U.S. policymakers and private-sector leaders in the mid-1980s. The focus sharpened on long-standing asymmetries in scientific and technological relations between the United States and Japan, particularly imbalances in technology flows and exchanges of scientific and engineering personnel. 7 Throughout most of the period from the end of World War II until the 1980s, the United States saw scientific and technological relations with Japan mainly as a means for deepening and improving political and human relations between the two countries—a nonproblematic aspect of overall foreign policy. Indeed, this is how the United States has traditionally handled scientific and technological exchanges with other friendly nations. 8 The U.S. security alliance with Japan reinforced the linkage between science and technology relations and foreign policy goals. 9
Science and technology relations with Japan became linked to the competitiveness and trade debates in two related areas. First, Japan's growing prowess in high-technology industries and the example of effective Japanese utilization of technologies developed in the United States prompted suggestions that the U.S. private sector would benefit from monitoring and assimilating technological and managerial developments in Japan and that government might encourage such efforts. 10 A second area of focus emerged from the realization that U.S.-developed technologies
U.S. Bureau of the Census data. The last year in which the United States ran a merchandise trade surplus was 1975. The trade deficit with Japan reached $65 billion in 1994.
Michael L. Dertouzos, Richard K. Lester, Robert M. Solow, and the MIT Commission on Industrial Productivity, Made in America: Regaining the Productive Edge (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1989).
See James C. Abegglen and George Stalk, Kaisha: The Japanese Corporation (New York: Basic Books, 1985); Akio Morita with Edwin M. Reingold and Mitsuko Shimomura, Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1986); and Chalmers Johnson, MITI and the Japanese Miracle: The Growth of Industrial Policy, 1925-1975 (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 1982).
These imbalances are described in more detail below. See also National Research Council, Maximizing U.S. Interests in Science and Technology Relations with Japan: Report of the Defense Task Force (Washington, D.C.:
National Academy Press, 1995), particularly Chapter 3.
For example, the U.S.-Japan Cooperative Science Program was launched in 1961, and is the oldest international cooperative program in which the United States participates. As the first bilateral science and technology agreement, it set the pattern for utilizing science and technology as a foreign policy tool. See the United States-Japan Committee on Scientific Cooperation, Twenty-Year Report: 1961-1980 (Tokyo: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 1982).
See National Research Council, op. cit.
U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Science and Technology, The Availability of Japanese Scientific and Technical Information in the United States (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1984). The growing interest in Japanese science and technology in the early 1980s was reflected in the establishment of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Japan Program and other efforts to train American scientists and engineers in the Japanese language.