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.
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.