elsewhere. The Japan Documentation Center (JDC) of the Library of Congress provides access to a range of sources, including unpublished, or "gray" literature. The Asia Technology Information Program, which is supported by federal and private sponsors, provides free abstracts of its proprietary reports over the Internet. The National Science Foundation's Tokyo Office publishes occasional report memoranda on various aspects of Japan's science and technology policies. R&D consortia such as the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation, nonprofits such as the Japan Information Access Project, industry associations such as the American Electronics Association and several of the Japan Industrial Technology Management Training programs provide ongoing information collection, analysis, and dissemination to their members.

The task force believes that collection and dissemination of JSTI and improved utilization are important national tasks where the public and private sectors have essential roles to play. The task force identified three U.S. priorities for improving access to and utilization of JSTI.

First, it is important to maintain public support for government programs such as Japan Technology Program, JDC, JTEC, and others that focus on Japanese and Asian technology information and analysis and to make as much of the resulting information as possible available to the public. These are not expensive activities, and they leverage activities and programs that the government will be undertaking in any case. Government and other programs that provide JSTI to the public at little or no charge may also play a positive role by pressuring proprietary services to perform at a higher standard.

One positive recent example is the Machine Translation Center for Japanese Science and Technology Literature at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The service is provided at no charge in cooperation with the Japan Science and Technology Corporation. Only raw machine translation output is provided. Response to the service, particularly from industry, has been very favorable. Many of the documents submitted for translation are patent filings. The machine translation allows the company to judge whether a document is important enough to be hand translated.27

Second, public and private organizations involved with JSTI should focus on utilizing advances in technology to ensure that the organizations engaged in these efforts are linked to the extent possible and to increase access to information for small companies and individual researchers. A significant amount of progress in this area has been made in the past several years, and most of the prominent programs make significant amounts of information available electronically.

Finally, there is a continuing need to eliminate barriers to timely access to a range of important and potentially useful Japanese information. Although some barriers reflect inherent characteristics of Japan's "information culture," others appear to be amenable to change through Japanese government policy changes that could be sought through the U.S.-Japan Science and Technology Agreement. One possible goal would be to make all Japanese government reports available on-line immediately in Japanese. Although much of this government information (laws, regulations, gray literature) is not directly related to science and technology, timely access could enable U.S. companies to participate in the Japanese market more effectively. In some cases the Japanese government could make JSTI more accessible as well. For example, some large databases are only accessible electronically during business hours in Japan, which is inconvenient for many potential U.S. users.

27  

Communication from the U.S. Department of Commerce, March 1997.



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