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The sayings of Akio Morita - A Textbook for the Heart



The Japan That Can Say "No"(1989)
"Technonationalism - An Anachronism "

According to Asahi Shimbun of August 4, reason why the English translation of "The Japan That Can Say"No"" was distributed during HDTV's public hearing was because "this book was used to reinforce the need for the US Government to embark on supporting HDTV (High Definition Television) development”. Apparently, industrial community as well as members of congress believes that they have missed the bus of HDTV.

In Japan, NHK as well as several companies made huge investments in the development of HDTV in anticipation of future prospects. However, in the US, hardly any company took such initiative. Japan had progressed far ahead by the time they realize this.

Since television belongs to electronics industry, lots of concerns were raised that electronics industry will disappear from the industrial arena of the US. One of the senators of the US told me that "industry people come to me and say "Give Me Time and Money". Means, give us some time and provide us financial support, we will overtake Japan.

Case of aeronautics may be there in the mind of Americans who make such statements. In 1957, when the Soviet Union first launched its artificial earth satellite Sputnik, Americans were completely petrified and taken aback. The entire country was shocked that they fell behind in the development of space technology.

At that time, President Kennedy mentioned in his public speech "American will send a human being on moon in 1960s". After that, collective efforts were made with NASA as a focal point and finally Apollo landed on moon in 1969. Once America became serious, they could overtake Sputnik as well. America can also overtake Japan anytime. However, since it is impossible for a single company to do that, it essentially means using the country's money in similar manner as NASA.

Since there are several joint ongoing projects between the US and Japan, we are proposing joint development of HDTV between the US and Japan as one of such projects. In contrast to the case of FSX (Fighter Support X), Japan will work actively and offer its technical know-how. Of-course, Japan will receive reasonable patent royalties. So far, we have also paid huge amount of royalties for using various American technologies. However, we do not want to receive exorbitant amount of money.

American side is still uncertain about our proposal. Defense Department will check whether HDTV will be useful in national defense and for they are ready to sanction US$ 30 Million. On the other hand, in the report of Congressional Budget Office, which is headed by Mr. Durman, HDTV is entirely under consumer electronics industry and does not occupy any significant position. There is also an opinion that raising lots of concerns about using large amount of money is unnecessary.

In this kind of environment, it is a fact that some of the Americans feel "there will be no future if we lose out to Japan. I will take a lead and show everyone that we can catch-up with and overtake Japan". It is a clamor that "America is America. Let us shutout Japan".

I call such opinions nationalism and technonationalism. Technonationalism is tendency of retreating into one's shall by withdrawing oneself from the game involving global technology development and technology transfer. As a result, top class technical professionals of the entire country will start focusing internally, which will block the efficient use of talent and resources. Fear of becoming a techno-colony lies at the back of technonationalism. This school of thought essentially says that over-enthusiasm of receiving ideas from foreign countries ultimately leads to complete dependence on outside world, which will result in domestic industry losing all its energy.

However, technonationalism as well as fear of becoming a techno-colony are not rational issues, rather they are sentiment and mindset related issues. Moreover, they are not the final solutions of the problem. Although it is little difficult to persuade someone sentimentally, I would like to ask American people, who are slowly concurring with this trend to look at Japan.(Continued in Volume 17)

( Extract from"Nijuisseki e" (Towards the 21st Century), published by WAC)

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