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Japan Gaining on US in R&D and Technology

Photonics Spectra
Mar 1998
The National Science Foundation has released a report saying Japan has invested proportionally more in R&D than the US and holds a favorable trade balance in advanced technologies, a sector that includes optoelectronics.
The report, The Science and Technology Resources of Japan, provides an overview of a number of indicators that point to growing Japanese strength in science and technology. In 1994, for instance, Japan invested 2.6 percent of its gross domestic product in R&D, compared with 2.5 percent by the US. Japan's efforts in basic research, which had lagged behind the US for years, has steadily grown since 1992 and now accounts for almost 84 percent of US levels, with increases anticipated.
The author, Jean Johnson, noted that renewed emphasis on R&D occurred as Japan was in an economic recession and under public pressure to reduce the national debt. After extensive interviews with Japanese companies and scientific institutions in 1996, Johnson concluded that many Japanese viewed increases in R&D as being important to the nation's recovery and to long-term sustainable growth.

More dollars for R&D
The report also describes the country's growing focus on more advanced industries based on fundamental science. Johnson noted the passage of the 1996 Science and Technology Basic Law, which suggested that Japan invest $74 billion (in 1987 constant dollars) in R&D from 1996 to 2000. This would represent a 35 percent rise over the amount spent between 1991 and 1995 ($51 billion).
For the complete report, see the National Science Foundation's Division of Science Resources Studies site at

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