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Strategies for Achieving U.S. Objectives in Science and Technology Relations with Japan:: REPORT OF A WORKSHOP Summary of Key Issues The National Research Council's Committee on Japan organized a workshop on “U.S. Objectives in Science and Technology Relations with Japan” held March 15, 1996. The meeting brought together policy makers and experts from the private sector. Summarized here are several issues and themes that emerged from the discussion, and possible tasks for the future raised by participants. U.S.-Japan cooperation in science and technology is not an end in itself. Cooperation is undertaken to advance other U.S. interests, including furthering agency missions, addressing global problems, strengthening the U.S. economy and building fundamental knowledge. In order to advance these interests through science and technology cooperation with Japan, the United States will need to continue efforts to access Japanese resources, scientific and technological capabilities, markets and skilled human resources. Specific attention and focus on the U.S.-Japan science and technology relationship remains necessary. Japan remains a very important collaborator and competitor in science, technology and related applications due to its advanced capabilities and ability to plan and invest toward long term goals. A number of long standing barriers to achieving U.S. objectives were discussed, including barriers to accessing the Japanese market, which remains the primary concern of U.S. industry. Other barriers include relatively low Japanese funding for basic research in open nonproprietary settings and legal or attitudinal factors related to cooperation in specific fields. Changes appear to be occurring in a number of areas, including Japanese funding for basic research. Although some progress has been made in the area of market access, significant barriers could very well remain for the foreseeable future. Comments received from participants after the workshop highlighted the need for continued efforts to expand access to Japanese science and technology-related information, particularly information related to regulations, laws, trade data, patents and government sponsored research. Finally, the United States has not fully risen to the challenge of Japan opportunities for a variety of reasons, such as budget constraints and insufficient incentives for individuals and organizations to obtain the necessary expertise and pursue opportunities. The potential benefits to the United States from cooperation with Japan are growing, but the remaining problems require continuing focused attention. The current official structure for the U.S.-Japan science and technology relationship appears adequate to pursue U.S. interests, but some modification and increased focus on issues raised at the workshop could deliver benefits. In areas such as the policy environment surrounding U.S.-Japan exchanges of scientists and engineers, the U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement and other initiatives have resulted in significant progress. In addition to the umbrella agreement, science and technology-related aspects of the Common Agenda under the U.S.-Japan Framework Agreement and cooperation undertaken by individual agencies are all important components of the official structure. Streamlining the administrative structure under the U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement could be beneficial to the United States. Efforts to streamline administration by combining some joint committee meetings and deactivating some joint task force activities might meet with resistance on the Japanese side but if successful could make more resources available for research. The U.S. public and private sectors might further explore how science and technology cooperation could be leveraged to achieve other U.S. objectives. Although there was a range of views over whether science and technology cooperation could be a useful point of leverage in achieving U.S. economic or other objectives, several important questions were raised that could be usefully pursued in the future. These include whether it is possible to effectively link science
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Strategies for Achieving U.S. Objectives in Science and Technology Relations with Japan:: REPORT OF A WORKSHOP and technology cooperation to economic issues and goals, such as expanded market access, and if so how such an approach would be implemented. U.S. coordination and implementation of science and technology cooperation with Japan could be improved. Although the U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement has resulted in improved coordination among agencies, centralized critical review of programs and projects has been difficult to achieve. Ensuring high quality program and project management by the individual agencies was suggested as a priority. Specific approaches to ensure effective communication between the U.S. public and private sectors were also discussed. Developments in Asia will have a growing impact on U.S.-Japan science and technology relations. The rapid growth in Asian capabilities in research and innovation imply that the United States will pay increasing attention to science and technology cooperation with Asian countries other than Japan. Workshop discussion implies that continued focus on Japan will be an important element in advancing U.S. interests in Asia.
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