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7 Implications for Foreign Access The preceding pages have outlined some of the major similarities and differences between the U.S. and Japanese university research systems, as well as the major challenges each faces. With this understanding, some generalizations can be made about what a foreigner seeking access to the Japanese university laboratory system might expect. First, however, it is helpful to examine some of the facts about scientific exchange between the two nations. It should be noted that these figures, like many of the other figures used above, are subject to argument, as there is no general agreement on definitions. They can, nevertheless, seIve as a point of reference. In 1982-1983 there were 13,610 Japanese postsecondary school students studying In the United States (1,000 in engineering). Contrast the th the fact that in the preceding 20 years, no more than seven Americans were enrolled in Japanese engineering programs in any one year; most years saw none.t In 1985, 20,000 Japanese researchers (including students) went to the United States while only 6,000 researchers from the United States and Europe combined went to Japan.2 That same year 9,000 Japanese researchers went to countries other than the United States and Europe, while 33,000 non-U.S. and -European researchers went to Japan. In 1986, ~ Lawrence P. Grayson, "Japan's Intellectual Challenge: The Strategy," Engineering Education (December 1983), 7-8. 2 Genya Chiba, "Participation of Foreign Researchers in Japanese Research Activities, " Proceed- ing~of the Fourth United States-Japan Science Policy Seminar (Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation, 1988), 168. 30
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31 23,334 researchers went to the United States from Japan while only 3,633 went from the United States to Japan.3 There have been numerous attempts to explain the large gap between the number of Japanese researchers who come to the United States and the number of American researchers who go to Japan. Some attempts focus on cultural factors, others on structural and systemic factors; some focus on the United States, others on Japan. There is probably some truth to all of them, but organizational and societal factors will continue to play a role on both sides. With recent Japanese legislation that allows foreigners to work in national research laboratories and Monbusho rules that allow national universities to hire foreign scholars as regular facula members, opportunities have increased but there remain cultural and other factors that limit full participation by the foreign researcher in Japanese laboratories. Unfortunately, most explanations of the gap are anecdotal. There is, for example, little hard data on the number of U.S. researchers who have seriously but unsuccessfully attempted to gain access to the Japanese research system. Until recently, in fact, there were few indicators of even the number of American researchers who might be interested. The recent establishment of many new postdoctoral fellowships for Americans in Japan, and the response they receive, may help to answer this latter question. Although the American response (in the form of applications for the program) has so far reportedly been disappointing, Alexander DeAngelis, head of NSFs office in Tokyo, reported that this was because adequate information was not disseminated in a timely fashion. According to DeAngelis, NSF received over 1,500 inquiries about the program and applications were expected to increase in number.4 Despite the lack of hard data, some tentative suggestions and possible explanations will be put forth here for the purposes of discussion. First, although Japan leads in many areas of technology development, there are few areas of basic research in which Japan commands the lead. Since universities are the loci of basic research in both countries, some argue that an American researcher has little reason to want to do research in a Japanese university laboratory. According to U.S. experts in fields such as optoelectronics, however, there are areas of applied research in which a few Japanese university laboratories are doing high-quality work at the forefront of their fields. In addition there are well-established cooperative research programs In some basic fields, such as controlled fusion. Nevertheless such 3Tsusho Sangyosho [Ministry of International Made and Industry], Sanfyo Gijutsu no Doko lo Kadai [Trends and Topics in Industrial Technology], 1988, 95. 4"Japanese Fellowships Go Begging Despite $2,000-a-month Pay," Nature 335 (22 September 1988), 287.
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32 areas of excellence in Japanese university research continue to be relatively few. An important factor in explaining the large number of Japanese coming to the United States is the Japanese perception of the value of human relations, connections, and first-hand experience. It has been argued that Japanese researchers come to the United States not necessarily to acquire knowledge or access U.S. research results, but to learn the American system and to make contacts. One indication of the importance to the Japanese of connections and understanding the system can be seen in Genya Chiba's (Research Development Corporation of Japan) recommendations for exchanges of administrative personnel as well as scientific personnel so that the United States and Japan can learn about the "business" aspects of research in each other's systems. Chiba holds that most current exchanges have been built on personal contacts.5 Thus, despite the fact that overall American university research is seen as of higher quality than Japanese, an American researcher may find at least two reasons for attempting to do research in a Japanese university laboratory. On the one hand, he may be in a field in which a particular Japanese university is doing world-class research. On the other hand, he may gain by increased understanding of the Japanese system and connections that he could make by working in Japan. The first category assumes that the American researcher has already learned of the Japanese laboratory where important research in his field is being conducted. While it is likely that a scientist actively pursuing research in his field would be aware of international developments therein, there is no formal network of informational exchange whereby he could learn of the most appropriate Japanese university laboratory for him to visit. Looking at the problem from a different perspective, Chiba notes that there are few mechanisms through which companies in Japan interested in hiring foreign researchers can find them; he calls for a system for exchanging Information about available researchers and positions.6 If an American does decide there Is value in entering the Japanese university laboratory system and decides where it would be most beneficial to work, there are still many obstacles to overcome, some inherent in each system and some that arise simply from differences in the systems. First, the American university researcher may End it difficult to find an 5 Genya Chiba, "Participation of Foreign Researchem in Japanese Research Activities,"Proceed- in~g~of~eFourthUnitedStates-JapanSciencePodcySeminar(Washington,D.C.:NationalScience Foundation, 19~), 171-172. 6 Genya Chiba, "Participation of Foreign Researchers in Japanese Research Activities," Proceed- ingsoftheFourthUnitedStates-JapanSciencePolicySeminar (Washington,D.C.:NationalScience Foundation, 1988), 171-172.
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33 appropriate time in his career for research abroad. A young and untenured researcher may risk his career by going abroad. A tenured researcher, on the other hand, may have too many other obligations to the university. If the researcher depends on outside consulting income, he may face financial difficulty. One of the first obstacles an American researcher will encounter, un- less properly prepared, once in Japan, is a language barrier. Although many Japanese speak English; a smaller number speak it fluently. Even if the language barrier can be surmounted to enable everyday conversation, the foreign researcher will probably be frustrated at his inability to read the Japanese-language scientific materials surrounding him. Furthermore, because in some fields much written material is already in English, informa- tion exchange in those fields is enhanced by oral communication in Japan, a factor that can make American access to information difficult. There are also a number of social differences that can create barriers to foreign participation. It has been argued, for example, that the Japanese group mentality places sharp boundaries between "insiders" and "outsiders" and that a foreign researcher is unlikely to be accepted fully into the laboratory of which he is only temporarily a part. Although this syndrome is for the most part based on Japanese politeness and respect for visitors, it nonetheless can be a difficult barrier to overcome. A recent article noted, "The image of the foreigner as a guest must be replaced with the more honest one of co-worker, whether in industry, the university, or in a national research agency."7 While the author of the above article recommends that Japanese research institutions offer longer contracts to foreign researchers, some Japanese have suggested that if U.S. companies were willing to permit their workers longer leaves there could be more exchange in programs such as PHOTO. The lifetime tenure and employment systems in Japanese universities and businesses make it less risly for Japanese organizations to sponsor long-term research abroad; they can be reasonably assured that the employee will return to the organization and that the organization will thereby benefit from his having gone overseas. American companies and universities, on the other hand, have to consider whether an employee they send overseas will return to work for another organization. One, but by no means the only, aspect of the degree to which a foreigner is accepted into the "fold" may be the degree to which he or she is willing to adapt to the ways of Japanese society. The workplace in Japan often takes the place of one's family, and acceptance in the workplace may require sacrificing much of one's private life. An American who is 7Masanori Moritani, "Foreign Researchers Still Face Barriers," TolyoBusu~ess Today (February 1988), 40.
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34 accustomed to maintaining a division between his private and professional life may find it difficult to adjust to working in Japan; after-hours socializing is a normal part of the working life of most Japanese. An American researcher in Japan must adjust to differences between the way Japanese and American university laboratories are organized. Re- lief from funding pressures may come at the cost of total research freedom. Although a foreigner may not be bound by the hierarchical constraints on Japanese researchers, the Japanese group may be less willing to accept a new approach to a problem if it is suggested by a junior researcher. Perhaps most important, the language barrier can prevent effective use of equip- ment if a foreign researcher is unable to read instructions, and preclude full exchange of views with other researchers so important to collaboration. Depending on the personality of the researcher, cultural and organizational differences may present opportunities as well as difficulties. Although the Japanese government has made efforts to encourage industry-university cooperation, and although there are numerous informal channels of information exchange between universities and industry, it is doubtful that a foreign researcher entering the Japanese university labo- ratory system would have extensive access to industry laboratories. It is likely that he would make connections through ongoing cooperative re- search projects and also probable that he would be permitted to attend informational exchange meetings in some cases (assuming he could follow them in Japanese). His ability to make such connections would, in all likelihood, depend on the individuals at his host laboratory and whether they were willing to introduce him to their networks. Finally, if a foreign researcher enters the Japanese university labora- tory system, is accepted, and is able to take credit for a discovery, he may wonder whether the reward system works as it does in this country, via the granting of a patent. It is only recently that outside organizations have been able to have priority in patenting of discoveries made at a national univer- sity laboratory. Traditionally, these patents belonged to the government; the government has, in the last few years, allowed companies supporting research in national university laboratories to have patent priority for a maximum of seven years. This move was made in an attempt to encourage private industry support of university research. A foreign researcher work- ing in a university laboratory in Japan can probably not expect anything more than what has been offered to Japanese industry. U.S. industrial researchers have been able to apply for patents on discoveries made In Japanese universities.
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