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Home > Books & Journals > Book Review Last Updated: 14:22 03/09/2007
Book Review #23: April 1, 2002

"Science, Technology and Society in Contemporary Japan"

by Morris Low, Shigeru Nakayama and Hitoshi Yoshioka

Reviewed by Takahiro Miyao (GLOCOM)

Title: Science, Technology and Society
in Contemporary Japan
Authors: Morris Low, Shigeru Nakayama and Hitosi Yoshioka
Publisher: Cambridge University Pressk
Date/Time: 1999
Pages: English text 226 pages (Paperback)
ISBN: 0-521-65425-4 (pbk)


This book offers an exceptionally well-balanced view of Japan's science and technology by comparing opposing viewpoints on issues relating to the subject matter. This objectivity is also due to the fact that an Australian scholar has collaborated with two Japanese scholars to make international comparisons in an meaningful way.

For example, regarding university-industry relations, the authors point out the lack of confidence in university research on the part of private businesses in the past, but at the same time, emphasize recent increases in university-industry joint research projects, especially since the abolition of a law that had discouraged Japanese universities from working with private businesses. This point has been made by Takahiro Miyao and Kenneth Pechter:
and also by Kenneth Pechter in his article "Comparative Policy Analysis Under Innovation-Driven Change: Assessment of the University-Industry Linkage in Japan and the United States":

In a closely related discussion about basic versus applied research, the authors take a position different from the stereo-type view that Japan is fundamentally weak in basic research by pointing out that "the Japanese neglect of basic science has mainly criticised outside Japan by American science policy-makers and journalists who are concerned about the loss of intellectual property rights----[but] there is a constant though slow, upward trend in Japan's contribution to the world production of academic papers. Japan's productivity is close to the European average."

These examples indicate how objective and broad-minded they try to be in assessing Japanese science and technology in comparison with the United States and Europe. A list of contents in this book is as follows.

"Science, Technology and Society in Contemporary Japan"
List of contents:
Part I. The Japanese Model of Research and Development

1 Basic versus Applied Research: The Role of Corporate Laboratories and Universities
2 Cooperation versus Competition: National Projects and Japan's Science Cities

Part II. Science and Technology for Economic Growth

3 Quality versus Quantity: Quality Control and the Automobile Industry
4 Technology versus Commercial Feasibility: Nuclear Power and Electric Utilities
5 Consumerism and Development versus the Environment

Part III. The International Dimensions

6 Domestic Development versus Importation of Technology: The Aerospace Industry and the FS-X/F-2 Fighter Plane Controversy
7 Domestic Technology versus the Export of Technology

Part IV. Science and Technology for the People?

8 Information Society versus Controlled Society
9 Science, Technology and Gender
10 National Interest versus Local Interests: Civil Aviation and the Construction of Narita Airport
11 The Patient versus the Doctor: Changes in Medical Care and Attitude to the Body


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