Looking to the Future: U.S. and Japanese Needs, Obstacles, and Alternative Approaches
From its examination of trends in the environment for the U.S.-Japan security alliance, U.S. and Japanese needs and capabilities, and the historical experience with various cooperative mechanisms, the Defense Task Force has formulated several conclusions regarding U.S. and Japanese needs in defense and dual-use technology cooperation, as described below.
Japan will almost certainly continue to need U.S. defense systems and desire U.S. defense technology. Japan has licensed produced and procured U.S. weapons systems since the mid-1950s. It is unlikely that this requirement will end or that Japan will embrace one of the conceivable alternatives in the foreseeable future. Although powerful forces in Japanese industry and government will continue to favor a higher level of indigenous capability, a wholesale shift toward Japanese-designed and -built systems is unlikely barring a sudden deterioration in U.S.-Japan relations or another equally significant shift in Japan’s security environment. Independent development programs for much of the range of weapons that Japan requires would certainly be possible in light of overall technological and industrial capabilities but would require a defense budget several times larger than the current one to procure less capable systems. The current downward pressure on the Japanese defense budget is likely to continue. Shifts in Japan toward a stronger form of pacifism or moves toward closer cooperation with European defense contractors are also possible but not likely. The possibility of European cooperation might be used in particular cases as a bargaining tactic, as it has been in the past.
Japanese government and industry are likely to continue to seek technological benefits in defense technology cooperation with the United States that will enhance capabilities in both defense and commercial fields. Obtaining the “magic bullet” of systems integration and design capability for large systems through cooperation with the United States and independent weapons programs has been a constant and unfulfilled dream for Japan. Deep strengths in this area have been elusive because the United States has structured programs such that these skills are not transferred to Japan and other licensed production partners and because to a significant degree systems integration skills are learned through experience. Japanese industry will continue to maximize the learning benefits of international cooperation and will seek to incorporate and field indigenous developments to the extent possible.1
A recent survey conducted by the MIT Japan Program found that most Japanese defense contractors, particularly the systems and aerospace houses, favor continued cooperation with the United States. The major defense electronics firms were less enthusiastic than the primes, perhaps because they are less dependent on U.S. technology than the primes, and electronic subsystems have been a focus of indigenization efforts in Japan’s defense production. See Michael Green, The Japanese Defense Industry’s Views of U.S.-Japan Defense Technology Cooperation: Findings of the MIT Japan Program Survey, MIT Japan Program, January 1994.
Although Japanese government and industry would prefer indigenous programs or international collaboration that results in a one-way, inward technology flow, a future of constrained defense budgets could make them amenable to more reciprocal U.S.-Japan cooperation. This is particularly true if technology transfer to the United States is structured into collaboration as a necessary element of doing business.
The United States has a continuing interest in furnishing Japan with major weapons systems and in certain aspects of the Japanese defense budget, such as host-nation support. U.S. defense contractors and suppliers are contracting, consolidating, or diversifying in the current climate of declining defense budgets. In the past, export sales and licensed production programs with allies have contributed to maintaining the U.S. defense industrial base by spreading fixed costs and providing additional income for U.S. contractors. Japan is likely to remain a major market for advanced weapons systems. Although potential sales to Japan or other allies should not be a primary driver of what systems and technologies are developed in the United States, prudently managed sales to Japan and other allies can continue to bring benefits to the United States, as they have in the past.
Although Japan has few dedicated defense technologies of interest to the United States, Japanese capabilities are sufficient to allow for more reciprocal technological relationships in collaborative defense programs. Japanese commercial technologies could make a significant contribution to U.S. defense systems, and this potential contribution will rise in the future.
In the judgement of the Defense Task Force, the time has passed when defense cooperation featuring primarily one-way transfers of technology from the United States to Japan could be justified by U.S. security interests. Therefore, to the extent that Japan desires the transfer of U.S. defense technologies, the United States has leverage that can be used to structure more reciprocal relationships.
The United States needs to manage dependencies on foreign sources of critical equipment and components for defense systems. Although the negative trend of increasing dependence in areas such as electronics appears to have abated, at least for the time being, dependence on foreign sources and technologies is a fact of life. Japan is likely to continue to be a major source of these dependencies.
GENERAL PATTERNS OF INTERACTION AND IMPLICATIONS FOR U.S. INTERESTS
From its study, the Defense Task Force believes that there are several possible scenarios for future patterns of U.S.-Japan cooperation in defense and dual-use technology. They are described below in order of their desirability in terms of U.S. interests.
In terms of U.S. interests, the most preferred scenario for the future is expanded U.S.-Japan defense technology collaboration featuring reciprocal technology flows within the context of a strengthened U.S.-Japan alliance. If both governments and industries make a focused, long-term effort to overcome the barriers to cooperation described in this report and summarized below, expanded reciprocal defense technology interaction that helps to meet U.S. and mutual defense needs in the emerging environment is achievable. An enhanced, reciprocal U.S.-Japan partnership in technology to meet defense and security needs could feature cooperation in such areas as upgrading and improving existing systems, adapting commercial technologies to defense
applications, developing new enabling technologies, and perhaps even codevelopment of new systems.
An acceptable scenario that would advance U.S. interests is limited U.S.-Japan defense technology collaboration in the context of continued Japanese off-the-shelf purchases from the United States of major systems and a continued strong security alliance. Particularly if the security environment remains favorable and Japan’s defense budget remains constrained, Japan may opt to fill most future defense needs through indigenous development and off-the-shelf purchases. This scenario would be acceptable as long as the United States maintains its current share of Japanese weapons purchases and reciprocal technology flows are structured into less frequent collaborative programs.
An unattractive scenario for the United States is a continued pattern of U.S.-Japan defense collaboration featuring a one-way flow of technology from the United States to Japan with growing uncertainty in the security alliance. Even if U.S. military security interests alone no longer provide a rationale for collaboration involving one-way transfers of U.S. defense technology to Japan, some might argue that such cooperation is worthwhile for other reasons. For example, Japanese licensed production of U.S. systems provides income to U.S. companies and helps amortize U.S. government research and development (R&D) costs, contributing resources that can be reinvested in next generation technologies. Others would assert that one-way licensing deals are necessary in order to compete with European weapons contractors and indigenous Japanese development programs. Although these considerations have some validity and a defense technology relationship characterized by “technology-for-money” might be favored by some interests in both countries, the Defense Task Force believes that pursuing such an approach could undermine good relations and would not serve the long-term interests of either country.
In the long run, the U.S.-Japan alliance will be best served by defense technology collaboration that can stand close scrutiny and attract sustained support from the political leadership and broader publics of both countries. To build continued support for collaboration involving transfer of U.S. technologies to Japan—which inevitably also involves potential commercial risks for U.S. companies and opportunities for Japanese industry—it will be necessary to show that the United States is gaining similar opportunities to benefit from cooperation.
The worst-case scenario in terms of U.S. interests would be a contentious U.S.-Japan defense technology relationship that erodes the overall security alliance or worse. This scenario could come to pass if barriers to cooperation cannot be overcome and the interests of both countries diverge due to changes in the security environment.
OBSTACLES TO COOPERATION AND POLICY OPTIONS
Asymmetries in Capabilities and Institutions
Obstacle: Asymmetries in capabilities and institutions for technology and industrial development, leading to differences in preferences regarding cooperative mechanisms.
These basic asymmetries were discussed and documented in Chapter 3. The disparity in capabilities in dedicated defense technology is the most serious asymmetry. As long as Japan focuses only limited resources on defense technology, this basic asymmetry is likely to remain.
Largely as a result, U.S. and Japanese government and industry have traditionally displayed very different preferences regarding cooperative mechanisms. Other things being equal, U.S. government and industry would prefer to sell U.S. systems to Japan off the shelf. Japanese industry and government would prefer indigenous development. In the past, licensed production often served as a compromise between these preferences. However, one-way licensing is no longer advantageous for the United States. Over the past 10 years several new mechanisms have been tried, but the results have been disappointing.
However, as discussed in Chapter 5, the United States is moving in the direction of greater utilization of the commercial technology base, particularly in areas where Japanese industry possesses advanced capabilities. If this trend continues, it should serve to somewhat ameliorate the basic U.S.-Japan asymmetry in dedicated defense technology.
In this environment the imperative will be to make patient efforts to lower or remove barriers to existing and new collaborative mechanisms that would enhance reciprocal technology flows. One long-standing issue is the interpretation and enforcement of Japan’s arms export controls (see Box 4-3).
Option: Seek a clarified interpretation and modification of Japan’s arms export control policy that facilitates enhanced interaction. Japan’s continued adherence to its ban on arms exports is consistent with U.S. interests. A general lifting of the ban would not be in U.S. interests. But at the very least the current situation surrounding interpretation and enforcement requires clarification. As outlined above, problems arise in two contexts: (1) when lack of clarity in interpretation serves to prevent Japanese commercial technologies from being incorporated into U.S. defense systems and (2) when joint R&D on new subsystems and upgrades is dampened by the reexport provisions on allowable transfers of Japanese defense technologies to the United States.
In a number of cases that have become public knowledge or have come to the attention of the Defense Task Force, U.S. companies were informed by Japanese counterparts that components utilizing essentially commercial technology could not be exported for use in U.S. defense systems due to the export ban. In those situations the Japanese company is generally reluctant to license the technology out of concern for possible future commercial competition. Without clarification, there is no easy way for U.S. companies to confirm that such a component export would actually be restricted. These cases do not receive wide attention because the U.S. companies involved are reluctant to raise the issue publicly. As major U.S. defense contractors, they may have extensive business interests in Japan’s defense and commercial markets and are justifiably concerned about retaliation.
One way to address both issues would be to seek from Japan an exception to the three principles for the United States, which would allow export of weapons and components only to the United States. An exception for the United States already exists for allowing the export of defense technologies, but it has not led to significant technology transfer. The Defense Task Force considered this approach but believes that such a change might not result in an expanded flow of technology to the United States and might introduce new complications into the relationship.
The Defense Task Force believes that there is much to recommend an alternative, two-pronged approach. First, to address the issue of expanding U.S.-Japan industry relationships that lead to incorporation of embedded Japanese technology into U.S. weapons systems, the United States should seek a clarification in Japan’s arms export principles to clearly allow minor modification of substantially commercial technologies for specific defense applications. A component using essentially commercial technology that undergoes minor modifications for utilization in a U.S. military system would not appear to be subject to the spirit of the ban. If the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and the Japan Defense Agency (JDA) could make a public statement to that effect, it could facilitate greater U.S.-Japan collaboration.
Second, to provide a greater incentive to collaborate in upgrading systems and subsystems, the United States should seek a change to the 1983 memorandum of understanding (MOU) that allows export of Japanese defense technology to the United States so that these technologies are exempted from reexport restrictions. Since any reexported subsystems would be manufactured in the United States, Japan would not be exporting weapons. Provisions would need to be made for payment of royalties on these technologies to Japan.
Changes in Japanese policies related to international defense technology cooperation, including the export control policies, are under active discussion in Japanese business and policy circles.2
Japanese Government and Industry Attitudes
Obstacle: Unwillingness of Japanese industry and government to cooperate technologically on reciprocal terms.
The Defense Task Force believes that this is a real and challenging barrier, but there are signs that it is not intractable, given proper incentives. The acquisition and improvement of technology have been key features of Japan’s economic development and the growth of individual companies. For Japanese companies, technology has historically been a scarce and valuable commodity—worth going to great lengths to acquire and certainly not to be sold cheaply or perhaps at all. The task force considered various incentives to encourage a more forthcoming attitude on the part of Japanese government and industry.
Option: Encouraging U.S.-Japan industry collaboration in developing enabling technologies for future defense systems through a joint program of R&D grants.
This approach aims to build on several positive examples described in the report in developing new incentives for effective reciprocal U.S.-Japan collaboration in defense and dual-use technologies. Both the United States and Japan are rethinking the missions and force structures of their military services in an environment where R& D needed to generate the technology base for new systems will be more difficult to support because of lower production rates and longer development cycles. Both the U.S. government and private companies will likely be more reluctant to invest in unique military R&D and more interested in utilizing dual-use technology.
At the same time, the U.S. government will increasingly insist on teaming companies in the development of new weapons systems, as in the case of the F-22. In some respects this implies
Japan Federation of Economic Organizations, “A Call for a Defense Program for a New World Order,” (provisional translation), May 1995.
convergence toward aspects of Japan’s procurement practices, in which major contractors are generally guaranteed a piece of all major systems. As defense companies become increasingly proficient in managing collaborative systems development under conditions of intense global competition, there is a stronger rationale for collaborative R&D on enabling technologies to leverage resources and spread risk.
This rationale applies in the U.S.-Japan context as well, as has been discussed. Building closer and more effective U.S.-Japan industry-to-industry relationships will likely require a persistent effort. Launching a program of joint industry-to-industry R&D would institutionalize industry involvement and cooperation and would help build working relationships for possible future joint development programs. Competition for government funding of this joint R&D would also be an excellent test of whether companies in the two countries are really interested in working together. The MARITECH program discussed in Appendix B appears to be facilitating U.S.-Japan industry relationships that enhance reciprocal technology flows.
U.S.-Japan joint R&D in enabling technologies for future weapons systems could be a useful focus for such a program. This would position the partners involved to feed those technologies into future systems and could lay the groundwork for possible U.S.-Japan collaboration in developing systems or subsystems. Because of the limited production base associated with purely military products, companies might be reluctant to undertake joint programs unless there is an opportunity for commercial market benefit from the technology that has been developed. To bridge this obstacle, the participating companies could be allowed to utilize the results of the research in their commercial businesses in return for cost sharing in the R&D program.
Such a program could be launched, perhaps through the Systems and Technology Forum, as an effort of both governments to fund four or five joint industry projects. DoD and JDA would jointly request and evaluate proposals from teams of U.S. and Japanese companies that address common future system or subsystem needs.
Bilateral and U.S. Government Approaches
Obstacle: Lack of consistency and coordination in U.S. government approaches.
Appendix A summarizes Defense Science Board reports issued in 1984 and 1989 to evaluate U.S.-Japan collaboration in defense technology and recommend changes in U.S. policy. Although a few of the broad recommendations have been implemented, several of the specific suggestions regarding DoD policies and organization have not been acted upon. It is clear to the Defense Task Force that a persistent coordinated effort by DoD in cooperation with other agencies and U.S. industry will be necessary to advance U.S. security interests in science and technology relations with Japan in the future.
There are two related imperatives. The first is to ensure that the pursuit of technology reciprocity and related benefits is built into the overall management of the U.S.-Japan security relationship. The second imperative is to ensure effective coordination and management of specific collaborative programs, with technology reciprocity issues receiving focused attention from an early stage.
Option: To ensure that the U.S.-Japan security relationship is maintained and strengthened, establish a U.S.-Japan comprehensive security dialogue that features an integrated discussion of the political-military, economic, technological, and other aspects of the alliance.
As this report has outlined, the environment surrounding the U.S.-Japan security alliance has changed dramatically in recent years. Both allies are in a process of reassessing security policies and priorities. Although the established consultative mechanisms have continued to function relatively well and the United States has launched two security-related policy initiatives with Japan—the Technology-for-Technology (TFT) initiative and recent discussions on enhancing defense and security cooperation (known as the Nye or Lord-Nye initiative)—there has not been a systematic effort to exchange perspectives on possible restructuring of roles and missions in the overall relationship.3 Just as enhanced reciprocal U.S.-Japan cooperation in defense and dual-use technologies could serve to strengthen the alliance for the future, continued vitality in the overall alliance will be necessary to build new structures for technology cooperation.
In light of the continuing importance of the U.S.-Japan alliance, changes in the environment surrounding the alliance, the evolving strategies of the partners and uncertainties about future challenges, the Defense Task Force believes that now is the time for an expanded forward looking U.S.-Japan dialogue on fundamental issues. In light of continuing economic frictions and observed U.S.-Japan differences in perspective on several important issues, a comprehensive security dialogue could make an important contribution to smooth alliance management over the next few years. A U.S.-Japan comprehensive security dialogue would build on recent and ongoing official exchanges. Ideally, it would be launched after the completion of the current Lord-Nye initiative, which is being undertaken at the working level and is focused on nuts-and-bolts issues of security cooperation.
The Defense Task Force believes that a U.S.-Japan comprehensive security dialogue could make a positive contribution in several areas. The first goal would be to establish a common understanding of mutual interests for a vital U.S.-Japan security partnership appropriate to post Cold War realities. This would involve an integrated discussion of key security issues such as roles and missions in the alliance, enhanced defense and dual-use technology cooperation, the implications of security policy changes in each country (such as possible revision of the National Defense Program Outline in Japan) and the evolving role of the U.S.-Japan alliance in Asia-Pacific security.
One option for achieving such an integrated security discussion would be to follow the Lord-Nye initiative with a broader dialogue coordinated at the cabinet or deputy secretary level. Such an approach could have value, but the Defense Task Force believes that a comprehensive security dialogue can and should try to do more. Although the specifics of security cooperation in areas such as ensuring host nation support and resolving issues related to U.S. military bases in Japan are important and deserve focus, the long term importance of the alliance goes beyond the particulars of security cooperation, including the defense technology issues that are the focus of this report. The comprehensive security dialogue could catalyze deeper thinking about the long-term rationale and role of the alliance than has been apparent in either country recently. A highly visible U.S.-Japan comprehensive security dialogue would also signal to Asia-Pacific countries that the two largest economic powers in the region and the world recognize that an effective bilateral partnership is essential to continued stability and development in the region, and would contribute to the development of regional security initiatives and national policies along constructive lines.
On the Lord-Nye initiative, see Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “Leadership and Alliances in East Asia,” Speech at the Japan Society, New York, May 11, 1995.
A further purpose of the U.S.-Japan comprehensive security dialogue would be to integrate discussion of the political-military, economic, technological, and other aspects of the alliance. Although economics and security will inevitably continue to be managed along separate tracks day-to-day, the Defense Task Force believes that it is important for the leadership and broader publics of both countries to understand that trends and developments in one area inevitably influence attitudes and context in other areas. It is unrealistic to believe that a “firewall” can be maintained long term to protect one aspect of the relationship from significant erosion of goodwill in others. In order for the comprehensive dialogue to integrate various aspects of the relationship, it should include participation from agencies in both countries responsible for economic and technological relations in addition to those responsible for defense and foreign policy.
It is important that the comprehensive security dialogue have official sanction at a high level yet be nonbureaucratic and flexible. Ideally, it would be coordinated by special designees of the president and the prime minister. Unlike current consultative mechanisms, the comprehensive security dialogue should bring in active participation and new thinking from the industrial and academic sectors of both countries.
The Defense Task Force does not believe that this possible comprehensive security dialogue is a panacea or magic formula that would resolve all the uncertainties and frictions in the U.S.-Japan relationship. In the late 1970s, President Carter and Prime Minister Ohira established the “Wisemen’s Group” as a forum for enhanced discussion of economic issues at a time when bilateral frictions were growing, and this forum made important contributions over the time it was in existence. The Defense Task Force believes that the alliance stands at a more critical juncture now than it did at that time, and that even the modest achievements that might be expected from a comprehensive security dialogue could be important and very timely.
From the point of view of the Defense Task Force, the key desirable features of the comprehensive security dialogue outlined here would be its high level mandate and independence from bureaucratic agendas, the integrated discussion of all aspects of the relationship, and active participation across agencies and from the private sectors of both countries. Should the U.S. and Japanese governments agree that a comprehensive security dialogue would be desirable, they could work out the specifics of the activity, including whether it should have a fixed length, whether it should issue reports and what links it should have to day-to-day policymaking.
Options for improving U.S. government coordination to maximize U.S. interests in U.S.-Japan collaborative programs.
In its 1989 report titled Defense Industrial Cooperation with Pacific Rim Nations, the Defense Science Board (DSB) task force recommended major organizational changes for the DoD. The DSB argued that the experience with the FS-X negotiations showed that the U.S. government was not organized to effectively pursue international defense industry collaboration in an environment where policymaking and management increasingly require the traditional goals of technology security and security assistance to be integrated with concerns about the economic impacts of technology transfer and opportunities for pursuing reciprocal technology flow. Specifically, the DSB recommended consolidation of the Defense Security Assistance Agency, the Defense Technology Security Administration, the then Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Industrial and International Programs, and the Office of the Director of International Acquisition into a single new agency.
DoD has recently undertaken some reorganization relevant to these issues, including the establishment of an Assistant Secretary for Economic Security, a new Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Reform, and a Defense Industrial Base Oversight Council. It is unclear whether these changes are adequate to provide the required level of focus and coordination in future collaborative programs.
The imperative for pursuing initiatives and relationships with Japan in an integrated strategic manner will be even more important in the future, particularly in connection with possible future U.S.-Japan cooperation in large systems. One current example is theater missile defense (TMD). Although Japan will likely not decide whether to field a system immediately, the Defense Task Force believes that now is the time for DoD, along with the military services, other U.S. government agencies, and U.S. industry, to begin developing a coordinated approach to the following issues: (1) desired technological contributions from Japan that are possible within the context of TMD cooperation, as well as Japanese technologies that could be transferred to meet other U.S. defense needs in return for U.S. TMD-related technologies that might be transferred to Japan; (2) U.S. TMD-related technologies that need to be protected in a collaborative program; and (3) parts of the TMD system that could be license produced in Japan. The Defense Task Force is well aware of the significant obstacles to effective coordination in defense and security policymaking and is wary about making specific recommendations to DoD in this area. However, the need is so pressing and timely that consideration of new approaches is well justified.
One alternative would be a major reorganization along the lines of earlier DSB recommendations. Although such a reorganization could be useful, it would disrupt ongoing operations and incur the risks of not achieving the desired goals or of introducing new complications.
The second alternative is appointment of a responsible point of coordination on a case-by-case basis for major systems in which collaboration with Japan or other nations is under discussion or is a strong possibility, as TMD is today. This is perhaps a minimum requirement for effective management, but such a coordinator would not guarantee success. If the person appointed is too high ranking, he or she might not be able to devote sufficient attention to the task. A lower-ranking official would be subject to the same sorts of crossfire from various constituencies that might occur even without coordination. However, a single point of coordination would ensure consideration of all the relevant issues at an early date and would help to ensure a common front in discussions with Japan and other allies.
A third alternative, which might become necessary in the future if the level of activity in international defense technology cooperation rises, would be a formal coordinating mechanism better linking current organizational structures. To draw an analogy, a major effort is currently being undertaken to coordinate the acquisition agendas of the services through the Joint Requirements Oversight Council. Should conditions warrant it, DoD might consider establishing a parallel International Programs Coordination Council to coordinate the agendas of the relevant parts of DoD and the services for international defense industry and technology programs that are under consideration or discussion.