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Study Says Harvard Reaps Yen

University Is Top Recipient of Japanese Money, 1986-1991

By Erick P. Chan

Harvard receives more money from Japanese investors than does any other American university, according to a Washington study released yesterday.

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) study, entitled, "Buying the American Mind: Japan's Quest for U.S. Ideas in Science, Economic Policy and the Schools," examined Japanese investment in American universities.

The 80-page study names Harvard as the top university recipient of Japanese money from 1986 to 1991. During that period, Harvard received over $93 million, the study reported. M.I.T., ranked second, received only $24 million.

"Relatively little notice has been given to...[a] striking phenomenon: Japan's quest for American ideas, whether to exploit them or to influence them," the study says.

"Japanese interests have poured more than $4.5 billion into U.S... endeavors," the study says. "For their money, the Japanese get the obvious benefits, including direct access to university science findings, influence over what some U.S. students learn about Japan, and distribution of public policy views that coincide with their own."

Questions Raised

"The study was conducted as a result of lots of questions raised in media and Washington circles," said Stephanie Epstein, the study's author, in an interview yesterday.

Five journalists spent a full year researching the study for CPI, a non-profit, Washington think tank that conducts investigative journalism projects, according to Epstein.

"The study was largely anecdotal," she said, explaining that the report does not make conclusions, but offers recommendations.

In 1989, Harvard received its largest single donation of the period--$85 million over 10 years--from the Shiseido Corporation, the study reports. The grant was used to build the Harvard Cutaneous Biology Research Center in conjunction with Massachusetts General Hospital, according to CPI research.

Between 1986 and 1989, the Higher Education Act of 1965 required universities to report all foreign gifts greater than $250,000, according to the CPI study. The Act, amended in 1986, expired in August 1989.

Since then, the study reveals, universities have stopped reporting large portions of the foreign funds received. According to the study, Harvard received $8.5 million from Japanese institutions, but only reported receiving $3.2 million.

"There is no excuse for not reporting," said Epstein.

Harvard officials could not be reached for comment about the study yesterday.

The study's release, one day prior to the 50th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, is no coincidence, Epstein said.

"I can say with confidence that they [CPI officials] understood that fact when they released it," she said.

Extra Exposure

Epstein said that with the media's increased attention on Pearl Harbor, CPI felt that any issue related to Japanese-American relations, such as the CPI study, would receive extra exposure. The study was the lead story in yesterday's edition of "20/20."

"We hope to foster debate in Washington, and we hope to be a spark for discussion," Epstein said

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