3

Possible Priorities and Strategic Options for the United States

The review of U.S. interests at stake in science and technology relations with Japan and the changing environment for cooperation, summarized in Chapter 2, raised a number of possible priorities and strategic options for future attention by U.S. policy makers and private sector leaders.

Much of the workshop discussion over priorities and options centered on the official structure of the U.S.-Japan science and technology relationship, and whether it is the right structure for pursuing U.S. interests in the future. Most workshop participants agreed that overall the current structure allows the United States to pursue most of its interests reasonably well. There were three main issues raised during the day with the status quo, and one future challenge that participants believe the U.S. public and private sectors will need to address.

STREAMLINING

One of the issues raised with the status quo is the difficulty on the U.S. side of administering the extensive joint committee and task force structure of the current U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement. Particularly in the current environment of tight staffing in several of the relevant agencies, the time spent on administrative work may cut significantly into resources available for research.

A number of options were discussed for streamlining the current structure or minimizing the administrative burden. One participant suggested scheduling the annual Joint Working Level Committee and Joint High Level Committee meetings for consecutive weeks (they are now held several months apart), which would cut down on the time and costs of travel and preparation. Another option would be to eliminate or deactivate joint task forces or committees working in areas where major issues appear to have been resolved, such as the Task Force on Access.

Perhaps the main barrier to such streamlining is resistance on the Japanese side. Unlike the U.S. government, which generally does not provide additional resources to agencies to administer science and technology agreements, some portion of the budget allocations of the relevant Japanese agencies are tied to administering the U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement. Streamlining the agreement might therefore raise the possibility of a loss in funding or prestige for these agencies.

A related consideration and one that is probably more important from the U.S. standpoint is that the agreement and related interactions often provide ammunition in the Japanese policy process. For example, the Japanese government has recently increased funding for fellowships to support foreign scientists and engineers doing research in Japan, as well as fellowships for Japanese traveling abroad. The fact that the Task Force on Access exists and is active helps support the rationale within the Japanese government for this increased funding, which advances U.S. interests. Perhaps those joint committees and task forces addressing areas in which major issues have been addressed could accomplish their missions with more convenient modes of operation (replacing meetings with conference calls, etc.).



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Strategies for Achieving U.S. Objectives in Science and Technology Relations with Japan:: REPORT OF A WORKSHOP 3 Possible Priorities and Strategic Options for the United States The review of U.S. interests at stake in science and technology relations with Japan and the changing environment for cooperation, summarized in Chapter 2, raised a number of possible priorities and strategic options for future attention by U.S. policy makers and private sector leaders. Much of the workshop discussion over priorities and options centered on the official structure of the U.S.-Japan science and technology relationship, and whether it is the right structure for pursuing U.S. interests in the future. Most workshop participants agreed that overall the current structure allows the United States to pursue most of its interests reasonably well. There were three main issues raised during the day with the status quo, and one future challenge that participants believe the U.S. public and private sectors will need to address. STREAMLINING One of the issues raised with the status quo is the difficulty on the U.S. side of administering the extensive joint committee and task force structure of the current U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement. Particularly in the current environment of tight staffing in several of the relevant agencies, the time spent on administrative work may cut significantly into resources available for research. A number of options were discussed for streamlining the current structure or minimizing the administrative burden. One participant suggested scheduling the annual Joint Working Level Committee and Joint High Level Committee meetings for consecutive weeks (they are now held several months apart), which would cut down on the time and costs of travel and preparation. Another option would be to eliminate or deactivate joint task forces or committees working in areas where major issues appear to have been resolved, such as the Task Force on Access. Perhaps the main barrier to such streamlining is resistance on the Japanese side. Unlike the U.S. government, which generally does not provide additional resources to agencies to administer science and technology agreements, some portion of the budget allocations of the relevant Japanese agencies are tied to administering the U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement. Streamlining the agreement might therefore raise the possibility of a loss in funding or prestige for these agencies. A related consideration and one that is probably more important from the U.S. standpoint is that the agreement and related interactions often provide ammunition in the Japanese policy process. For example, the Japanese government has recently increased funding for fellowships to support foreign scientists and engineers doing research in Japan, as well as fellowships for Japanese traveling abroad. The fact that the Task Force on Access exists and is active helps support the rationale within the Japanese government for this increased funding, which advances U.S. interests. Perhaps those joint committees and task forces addressing areas in which major issues have been addressed could accomplish their missions with more convenient modes of operation (replacing meetings with conference calls, etc.).

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Strategies for Achieving U.S. Objectives in Science and Technology Relations with Japan:: REPORT OF A WORKSHOP Another concern on both the U.S. and Japanese sides is the possibility that major substantive issues might be introduced if the agreement is opened to renegotiation of administrative provisions. Particularly since many of those currently involved recall the contentious negotiations that led to the 1988 agreement, there is some reluctance to risk another protracted renegotiation process. Other participants pointed out, however, that it was the possibility that the agreement would not be renewed that brought the Japanese government to the negotiating table in the mid 1980s, and that it is sometimes necessary to take such extreme positions in negotiations with the Japanese government to achieve any worthwhile results. In contrast to the discussion of the U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement, participants did not raise major issues with the Common Agenda. Several participants said that it has had a positive impact in linking U.S. and Japanese efforts in a broad range of fields without a major commitment of additional resources. As an initiative of the current administration, it is expected that the Common Agenda will either be continued or replaced next year depending on the outcome of the November election. It is appropriate that each administration develop its own approach to science and technology relations with Japan in conjunction with the more permanent structure of the U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement and other agreements. Participants expressed the view that although streamlining the official structure is not and should not be the top U.S. priority for the science and technology relationship with Japan, easing the administrative burden could deliver concrete benefits to the U.S. side. Prudent efforts on the part of U.S. officials to develop and explore options with Japanese counterparts therefore appear to be justified. LINKAGE AND LEVERAGE As mentioned above, a key factor in the context surrounding renegotiation of the U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement and other U.S.-Japan initiatives of that time was growing concern in the United States over the linkage between asymmetries in science and technology relations and trade relations. Some participants questioned whether the United States might obtain leverage from science and technology more effectively by linking cooperation with Japan to expanding market participation for U.S. companies and other national objectives. One possible approach would involve linking improved access to specific Japanese markets to government supported U.S.-Japan cooperation in important areas of research. Another approach would be for the United States to decline to renew the U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement unless specific objectives were met. While many participants did not object in principle to a policy of linkage, a number of potential difficulties were pointed out that would likely be encountered in implementation. Policy formulation and coordination on the U.S. side would be difficult. As illustrated by past and current U.S. efforts to use various forms of linkage and leverage in relations with the former Soviet Union and China, strong political support is needed to sustain approaches in which relations in one area are used to influence foreign government policies in other areas. There is also a question of whether such a linkage between science and technology and other areas would be effective, or would ultimately be more harmful to the United States. Would science and technology sanctions really have an impact on U.S.-Japan trade relations, particularly if more direct trade remedies are available? One participant pointed out that in the current environment the Japanese government appears less willing to negotiate market opening in specific sectors, and the United States may face constraints in utilizing and leveraging unilateral trade remedies such as Section 301 due to concern that the World Trade Organization would overrule unilateral sanctions.

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Strategies for Achieving U.S. Objectives in Science and Technology Relations with Japan:: REPORT OF A WORKSHOP U.S. agencies, possibly through developing new approaches such as the formation of temporary inter-agency teams to address specific issues, or “virtual agencies.” Oversight of government to government cooperative programs was another issue raised by participants. The U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement provides a structure for central oversight of science and technology cooperation undertaken by individual agencies, and in theory allows for central evaluation and critical review of whether cooperative programs are really worthwhile or reciprocal. In practice, this has proven to be difficult because the coordinating agencies lack the necessary resources and wide range of technical expertise. One participant stated that because reliance on the individual agencies is inevitable, perhaps the U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement could be used in the future to promote and ensure quality program and project management in the agencies. A third priority identified by participants was to ensure effective communication between the U.S. public and private sectors. Participants agreed that the Joint High Level Advisory Panel (JHLAP) plays an important role as a forum for U.S.-Japan private sector discussion of the science and technology relationship and related policy issues. Several years ago, a dedicated secretariat for the U.S. membership of JHLAP was established in the Technology Administration of DOC. Recently, the U.S. members of JHLAP have played a more active role in providing input to U.S. government officials, the main purpose being to ensure that issues of concern to the U.S. private sector in science and technology relations with Japan are brought to the attention of high level officials. A number of possible approaches were discussed for improving U.S. implementation in the science and technology relationship with Japan, including approaches to ensure adequate interagency and public-private communication and exchange. Among the options raised were preparation of a brief annual report on the relationship by one of the relevant agencies (perhaps DOC) and annual briefings for the U.S. members of JHLAP, JWLC and JHLC organized by the NRC's Committee on Japan. A greater role for the private sector, perhaps coordinated by JHLAP, in evaluating and reviewing the cooperative programs of individual agencies was also discussed. Although major commitments of additional resources for such activities cannot be expected in the current budget environment, it may be possible to develop new approaches that improve the U.S. side's ability to get the most out of the relationship and are also cost effective. RISING ASIAN CAPABILITIES AND IMPACTS ON THE U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONSHIP A key theme from the workshop discussion is that the U.S.-Japan science and technology relationship will continue to require specific attention in the U.S. public and private sectors. The major problems and asymmetries in the U.S.-Japan relationship have not been resolved, and it is unclear how long the current period of apparent U.S. ascendancy in major high technology industries will last, particularly in light of vigorous efforts on the part of Japanese companies to adjust to their new environment, and the apparent effort by the Japanese government to reinvigorate and expand basic research activities. The major opportunities and challenges in structuring mutually beneficial U.S.-Japan cooperation in addressing global problems lie ahead. Participants also recognized that the rapid emergence of economic, scientific and technological capability across Asia will have an important impact on U.S.-Japan relations. Some participants pointed out that while greater focus on Asia by the United States is necessary, this should not be at the expense of attention paid to Japan. Indeed, Japan will be a major factor in U.S. relations with other Asian countries, particularly if Japan is successful in its efforts to improve capabilities in basic research. One participant pointed to the possibility that Japanese

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Strategies for Achieving U.S. Objectives in Science and Technology Relations with Japan:: REPORT OF A WORKSHOP investments in Asia and education of Asian students might contribute to building an Asian infrastructure in research and innovation that is tightly linked with the Japanese system and less permeable than the American system. Although detailed options were not discussed at the workshop, the discussion suggests that increased efforts in the United States to understand trends in Asian science and technology, including Japan 's role in the region, would be timely. Also, while the positive impacts of the U.S.-Japan S&T Agreement were recognized, it was also pointed out that government to government agreements can only have a limited impact. Creating structures and institutions for science and technology relations with Asia similar to what exists now with Japan may not provide an easy solution to the issues that will arise in the future.