Times article misrepresents Bose
(Editor's note: The Tech received this letter addressed to the editors of The New York Times.)
I have been moved to write this letter by the gross distortion of my views in a front page New York Times article ["MIT Deal With Japan Stirs Fear on Competition," Dec. 19].
It was clear during the telephone interview that the bias of the article was set before the interview was conducted and that facts and statements had no influence upon it. I believe your readers deserve the opportunity to know my true views as opposed to those that were implied in the article.
After World War II, Japan recognized that export of high quality manufactured products would be essential to the future of its economy. The Japanese industry, working with their government, focused upon acquiring the necessary production skills.
During the same period American industry was so busy supplying the expanding domestic market that it felt no need to learn new production techniques to improve its productivity and quality. The result is that we now have
as much to learn from Japan as Japan had to learn from us in 1950.
In my semi-annual visits to Japan over the past 20 years I have found the Japanese to be very cooperative in sharing their production knowledge with me and with the many people from Bose Corporation whom I have sent to Japan.
I have read many articles that talk about the one-way street between Japan and America. It is true that Japan has policies and procedures, introduced by powerful lobbies, that protect special interest groups from foreign competition.
This is at the expense of the public who has no option but to pay exorbitant prices for the protected goods. However, there remain many fields of enormous opportunity for US firms to do business in Japan if they are willing to take the time and effort to learn Japanese customs and business that the Japanese took to learn from us.
The opportunities for export to Japan are now at an all-time high as the Japanese government is exerting very real pressure on many industries to increase the US content of their products. Industry is trying to comply, but their principal concern is matching the quality and service that they are accustomed to from their local suppliers.
Another significant factor in the dominant economic role that Japan now occupies is the fact that industry and government cooperate in long-term strategic planning for the nation. This is in stark contrast to the adversarial relationship that exists between government and industry in our country.
By comparison to Japan we conduct business like a chess player who tries to capture the maximum number of the opponent's players on each move -- a short-term strategy destined to lose the game. Just as in 1950 Japan recognized the need to learn and perfect production skills, they now recognize the need to develop more creative technological skills to position themselves for the next century.
This need is not currently filled by their educational system. They have a plan to acquire this and are prepared to spend the time, effort and money to develop it. Certainly this is to be applauded rather than criticized.
They recognize the leadership position that the United States has in this dimension in its research universities, and they have begun to invest heavily in supporting these universities with the expectations of learning how to develop the creative abilities of students, getting the latest technology at its birth and eventu
ally encouraging some students to work in Japan.
Yes, the two nations are and will continue to be economic competitors. However, the way to compete is to use all available sources of education and training to improve one's self, not to try to suppress the improvements of the competitor.
Only in this way will the standard of competition and thus its fruits, the products and services delivered by the competitors, attain the highest possible level. The world needs more cooperation in all aspects of education, and the United States needs a plan to take advantage of this for our country.
For these reasons I support the MIT Media Lab program with Nihon University, contrary to what was reported in the Times article.
Amar G. Bose '51->
Professor of electrical engineering and computer science->