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For those who don't read Japanese.

For those who don't read Japanese

Last year, Japan had a $45.6 billion trade surplus, while the United States had a world-trade deficit of $150 billion -- its biggest ever. One reason widely credited for Japan's ascending position in world trade is its industries' quick assimilation of science and technology advances made -- and published -- elsewhere. Congress believes the United States should take a lesson from Japan. The Japanese Technical Literature Act, passed by unanimous consent in the House late last month, seeks to foster that by improving access to Japanese science and engineering.

An Information Center of Science and Technology, supported by the Japanese government, processes and abstracts more than 10,000 foreign and domestic journals, as well as technical reports, conference presentations and patents for use by Japan's manufacturing and business community. In supporting the new bill on the House floor, Rep. Manuel Lujan (R-N.M.) cited a 1981 survey which estimated that data in 75 percent of Japan's approximately 10,000 technical journals were unavailable to non-Japanese-reading researchers.

And those data might indeed be valuable, according to a Senate report on the issue last fall. Japan now ranks third in world spending on research, supports the world's third largest research labor force and per capita spends nearly as much on research and development as the United States. "Much of this research is widely recognized as first rate," the Senate report said. Moreover, it added, a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce study has concluded that U.S. technology is being overtaken by the Japanese in 12 important areas, including advanced ceramics, optical fibers and large-scale integrated circuits.

To remain internationally competitive with Japanese technology, the new bill would have the United States spend $1 million annually to: monitor Japanese technical activities and developments; consult businesses, professional societies and libraries for their Japanese-information needs; acquire, index, translate and disseminate Japanese technical information; publish a directory of this information; and have the Commerce Department prepare annual reports on important Japanese advances in areas such as computers, semiconductors, biotechnology, robotics and manufacturing.

This bill is a virtual carbon copy of one that cleared the Senate late last year. Because it has bipartisan support--including the support of the Reagan administration -- it is thought to have a good chance of becoming law.
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Title Annotation:U.S. to monitor Japanese technical activities
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 19, 1986
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