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Techno-Friction Gives Rise To Security Conflict With AM-EXP--Japan-US-Security Bjt

July 6, 1988

TOKYO (AP) _ Takehiko Furusawa, an engineer specializing in a technological field with potential military application, says there is a definite change under way in Japan regarding freedom of information.

″Research results here used to be completely open, but since Eastern bloc countries have used our technology for military purposes we’ve had to close off conferences and the flow of information in a number of fields,″ said the University of Tokyo professor.

In the wake of last year’s scandal involving exports of sensitive technology to the Soviet Union, Japan has moved with uncharacteristic speed to clamp down on strategic exports and cut off access to information on sensitive technology, like the carbon composite materials Furusawa specializes in.

But Washington, which regards Tokyo as lax, has called on Japan to make a bigger commitment in a strategic new agreement on scientific and technological cooperation, concluded in June after 10 months of negotiations.

Japan bowed to U.S. pressure and agreed to limit the publication of U.S.-Japan technology with possible military application. Japanese officials also agreed that they would control the flow of information and products of a sensitive nature to retricted areas, which were not specified.

Yasushi Murao, head of the research cooperation division of the government- run Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, said the government wasn’t able to completely give in to U.S. demands for strict confidence on research that could be applied militarily.

″If it was before or during the war, the Japanese government could have taken such measures, but this is no longer possible today under the present law,″ Murao said.

Susumu Tonegawa, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and the first Japanese to win a Nobel Prize for medicine, says Japan is parly to blame for creating ″technological friction.″

″Over the past 10 to 20 years, Japan failed to invest in basic science while corporations borrowed basic research results to develop applied technology ... the U.S. is frustrated and is going to extremes like keeping research a secret,″ he said in a recent address here.

The JSPS’s Murao pointed out the majority of Japan’s scientists are not likely to heed governmental limits on academic freedom, however limited.

″Academics as a rule are ready to share research results with the international scientific community and they’re not going to think about the possible applications of their findings,″ said Murao.

But in a clear message to Japan, U.S. legislators drafting a trade bill in March approved sharp import curbs on Toshiba Corp. and its subsidiary Toshiba Machine Corp. for exporting submarine-silencing equipment to the Soviet Union.

Although the bill died after a presidential veto, a revised version is likely to retain the anti-Toshiba provision to ensure that the new trend toward more confidentiality regarding scientific information continues.

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