U.S.-Japan Program is First To Study Trade and Relations

Five Japanese scholars will participate this year in the first permanent program erected to study long-range political and economic issues affecting the United States and Japan.

The U.S.-Japan Relations Program will research and prepare for publication in 1981 a report on such topics as the decline in American productivity and the simultaneous boom in Japanese imports since the 1973 oil shock, Kent Calder, lecturer in Government and executive director of the program, said yesterday.

Calder and Samuel P. Huntington, Thomson Professor of Government, conceived the program last year, Calder said. The pair went to Japan last May to organize the program, he added.

New Approach

"What is unprecendented is our approach to U.S.-Japan relations," Calder said. "We are studying the roots of conflict--not looking at the commodities where flashes erupt but rather at the policies which were there before the conflicts arose. We are attempting to get at the roots of the trade deficits and tensions," he added.


Japanese and American foundations, institutes and businesses have funded the research project, as has the University's Japan Institute. This year's budget is "well over $100,000" Calder said.

"A number of the biggest companies in both the U.S. and Japan have helped finance the project, but we get no government funding, Calder said. We wanted to divorce it from politics and keep it as objective as we can," he added.

An eight-member advisory council composed of figures in government, business and academia from the U.S. and Japan will supervise the program. Robert Ingersoll, former U.S. ambassador to Japan, heads the American contingent, which includes another former ambassador, Edwin O. Reischauer, University Professor of Government. Nobuhiku Ushiba, former Japanese ambassador to the U.S., chairs the Japanese contingent.

The council will first meet at Harvard on November 17. It will receive reports annually on the program's progress.

The U.S.-Japan Economic Relations Committee, set up by President Carter in May 1979, is the only other program ever to have examined these issues, Calder said. That group met for only a year, however, and is now disbanding.

Such a project could not have happened fifteen years ago," Roy Vernon, Dillon Professor of International Affairs, who is supervising part of the program, said Friday. "The language barrier is over, and the concept of empirical economic analysis and disinterested academic research has only recently become familiar in Japan," he added.

Calder said both countries are motivated by self-interest to participate in the project. "Although in the short run, the U.S. deficit gives the Japanese the advantage of selling more, it is not in the Japanese interest to see America an economic cripple, that is, incapable of playing a central role in world politics," he said. "They know that for the U.S. to maintain a substantial defense establishment it must be able to compete in international markets," he added