However, Japan has developed considerable strengths in a variety of dual-use technologies. This is significant because the United States is currently engaged in a broad effort to increase utilization of the commercial technology base for defense systems.1 There are two reasons for this effort. First, with ongoing defense budget cuts as a result of the end of the Cold War, there is a growing imperative to stretch and restructure weapons procurement and research and development (R&D). A greater use of commercial items and commercially derived technologies, particularly in subsystems and components, should reduce costs. The second reason for a greater U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) reliance on commercial technology is that in areas such as electronics, software, and materials, commercial technology developments are outpacing technologies developed solely for defense uses. In some cases, greater utilization of the commercial technology base would deliver benefits to U.S. weapons systems in the form of greater capability as well as lower costs.

Japanese strengths in microelectronics, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, and other critical technologies are well known and comparable to the capability possessed collectively by our NATO allies. As noted, Japan’s defense procurement and technology development policies have emphasized utilization of commercial technologies and civil-military integration, particularly at the components level. 2 There are a number of obstacles blocking DoD access to Japan’s commercial technologies, including the fact that ownership often resides in Japanese companies that are not traditional Japanese defense suppliers; the Japan Defense Agency (JDA) and other Japanese government agencies might have little leverage.3 Also, Japanese advantages in many high-technology fields tend to take the form of manufacturing practices and techniques that may be more difficult to transfer at arms length than “hard technology, ” which can be expressed in drawings and technical instructions. Finally, some have questioned the interest of U.S. companies in Japanese technology and the willingness of Japanese companies to transfer their technology. 4

The National Research Council’s (NRC) Committee on Japan organized several workshops in which representatives of U.S. companies discussed Japanese strengths in dual-use technology areas. One workshop focused on advanced composites, and the other on optoelectronics. Table 5-1 shows selected Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) R&D programs in advanced materials and optoelectronics. These are not the only areas of Japanese technological strength in which contributions to meeting U.S. defense needs might be pursued, but they are useful examples that illustrate more general issues.


National Economic Council, National Security Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Second to None: Preserving America’s Military Advantage Through Dual-Use Technology, 1995.


Richard J. Samuels, Rich Nation, Strong Army: National Security and the Technological Transformation of Japan (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1994), especially Chapter 8 and Chapter 9. A succinct treatment is contained in U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Other Approaches to Civil-Military Integration: The Chinese and Japanese Arms Industries (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1995).


A recent survey of U.S. government and industry representatives conducted by the MIT Japan Program discusses these obstacles in more detail. See Matthew Rubiner, U.S. Industry and Government Views on Defense Technology Cooperation with Japan: Findings of the MIT Japan Program Survey, 1994.


Michael Green, The Japanese Defense Industry’s Views on U.S.-Japan Defense Technology Cooperation, 1994, p. 18; Rubiner, op. cit., p. 20.

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