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This is about science produced by the California Institute of Technology and originally broadcast by station KPCC in Pasadena California. The programs are made available to the station by national educational radio. This program is about science in Japan with host Dr. Peter Letterman and his guest Roy Locke Heimer of the American University's field staff. Here now is Dr. lissom on a nation's most scientifically advanced nation Japan faces a basic decision on science and it must make that decision soon. Japan aims to be the fourth nation to orbit scientific satellites with its own rockets. But the Japanese economy has been based for many many years on using and improving other people's ideas. So the decision that the Japanese face now is whether to keep on using other people's ideas. Or to dive to take that headlong plunge into basic research themselves. They have found that using other people's
technology means they have to pay large licensing fees and that limits their profits. Of course Japan is the world's best example of what can be done by importing scientists from other nations. In fact that technique learning from others has been the main source of Japanese success since the middle of the 19th century and today of course people ask why if the Japanese can do it can't the underdeveloped nations of the world do the same. But Japan is a special case a case in which the fruit was ripe for picking. When Japan first encountered Western powers her leaders immediately realized they would be overcome unless they obtained the source of Western strain of science. They embarked on a crash program that led to all that Japan is today. And yet when this massive importation of science tific technology began Japan was at a period when her people were ripe for new ideas. Also Japan had an
educational system a communications system an organized central government and a single language. These are things today's underdeveloped nations especially in Africa sometimes lack. Our visitor today is right lachrymal an American University's field staff associate for Japan. Mr. Lark Homer is a great Did his undergraduate work at Tufts in history and graduate studies in Japanese at the French School of Law and Diplomacy and further study Japanese languages at Harvard in Yale. He studied in Japan itself studying politics at the Graduate School of Kerio University. He is on intimate terms with Japanese life. Its people and the ways of the Japanese and has worked as a columnist for The Japan Times. He has recently completed two articles on Japanese science. Roy first thing I want to
ask you is what is the condition of Japanese science today. How is their space program going. I understand that they have not had the greatest success with it recently. No they haven't but I would say that the future is an interesting one for Japanese space research. And if you would phrase the question from the point of view of Japanese science in general that's rather difficult to answer because you know it's not an across the board type of thing but varies according to which field you're looking at. In the case of space science Japan probably will achieve success within the next year I would say it's likely. It's certainly very likely that they'll be trying to do so the success Roy did in success in getting something into orbit. Yes launching a satellite and I think it's interesting to point out that if the Japanese do this I think as you might have mentioned Japan will become the fourth nation in the world to do it with its own rockets. You see other
nations that have long had satellites launched in a cooperative program with Nassau for example. But the Japanese want to do it on their own. Now last year they tried three times. And through various technical difficulties they were not successful. Perhaps they were rushing things a bit by using a small lambda rocket which was originally designed primarily as an observation rocket and had the capability of turning. Launching a satellite so they tried and were not successful. They have other plans though for the for this year for 68. The bigger rockets in mind. Oh yes the land is probably about the size of the American scout rocket. A rather small rocket on the other hand the MMU the new rocket that the Japanese have the University of Tokyo has designed is comparable in size and in range to the American Minuteman but I should emphasize it's certainly not a missile. It is a
rocket and does not have the Japanese have for it and no intentions of using it for military purposes. But it would stand for example in a service tower 10 stories high. And would have a range of about 5000 miles. Well that's a very interesting point there one that you just raised. The fact of the Japanese is great antipathy towards militaristic ideas because most of us today think of rocket technology as being intimately related to what we euphemistically call defense but which probably means clobbering other people. How do the Japanese regard that. How do they how do they justify their space programs keeping it completely away from any militaristic view. Well I think you know we might take a look at this perhaps it requires a little bit more detail than you might think. Japan is of course the only nation in the world to have suffered not one but TWO atomic attacks. And the Holocaust
that resulted from this has more or less penetrated Japanese science world and Japanese scientists in general. So we have this a rather strong bent for pacifism among Japanese scientists. Beyond that there isn't the Japanese constitution Article 9 and so far as I know it is the only constitution in the world to have such a clause and that prohibits the Japanese from maintaining war potential and denies for that to them forever. They have the right of declaring belligerency so that in terms of their own constitution legally they have to know themselves have the right to declare war on other powers and supposedly they do not have the right to send troops abroad. So then how does this fit in with the Japanese rocket program. Well it's fairly obvious I think from what I've been saying these two major streams in Japanese life the legal one legal pacifism and emotional pacifism penetrating almost all aspects of Japanese life. Now there is
very little desire to develop rockets to the point where they could turn into missiles or use rockets for military purposes. And this would extend over such a range that it could be conceivable and I've been told that this perhaps has happened that certain scientists at the University of Tokyo where the most startling developments in Japanese rocket research have occurred have deliberately not pushed for further development say in guidance systems because as you know a guidance system is something very important in terms of making a rocket into an accurate missile. And this is something the Japanese have wanted to go easy on. Now we have been talking about the future plans of Japanese rocket research. If they want to launch a satellite I have 4 decision in a position orbit in a precise orbit. They would need to have better guidance systems than they have at the present time. If they just want to put a satellite up in any kind of orbit while they perhaps going to achieve it with the equipment they have.
This new rocket. I feel that I will have a more satisfactory guidance system than the lambda. Ever was ever thought of providing for the lambda rocket. So as you point out Roy the Japanese are really extremely sincere in the statement that their rocket research is entirely scientifically oriented. Well it's scientifically oriented never very much sincere in saying that it's it's not for military purposes I will yes. That's not to say that that military people are not working on rockets in Japan they are the problem would be you see one of communication and cooperation. Perhaps we might look at this for a moment. There are three major bases for rocket research in Japan. One of them is identified with the University of Tokyo which has by far the most significant advance in rocketry in Japan. The second one is another base run by the agency for science and technology of the national
government. And the third one is run by the Japanese military. It's not called the military it's called a Defense Agency a euphemistic term to get away you see with this constitutional requirement to get away from using the word military. The manufactory I understand it's even called the Self Defense Agency self defense agency self defense forces and so on. They would be working on rockets and missiles. And they would be self defense agency that is would be engaged in liquid fuels as well as solid feels whereas the University of Tokyo which again has the most significant stake in rocketry in Japan. Has limited itself solely to solid fuels. What is the influence of the fuels on these matters Roy. I really wonder if you ask the question in Japan do certain Japanese scientists or laymen interested in the rocket program as they would respond that. Perhaps a liquid fuel might provide a more
precise orbit might provide a better system of guidance. And the Japanese are going to use rockets merely for observing space and they don't have to have such precise guidance and why get into such an area. A decision for a rocket. Anyway this is kind of silly. I don't think it makes too much sense. I suppose the University of Tokyo is continuing with solid fuels because it has a sizable investment in solid fuels already and a change over at this point would be an economical I suppose that's the main reason there is the psychological feeling though that solid fuel provide more provision for military purposes. That's probably not true because as you know Peter. Solid fuels are very easily portable and many of our of American missiles are solid fuel devices liquid fuel. Weapon is not quite so portable it can be made easily portable but not quite so easily as a solid fuel line.
Yes that's right we regard to solid fuels as the proper tactical weapons and the liquid fuel is being very difficult and very sensitive in the sort of thing that you can prepare for many days before you launch. Roy I want the girls for the satellites that the Japanese want to put up. Well we have been talking about some of them already. Primarily scientific observation scientific satellites from the point of view of the scientists the University of Tokyo. They already have a mock up of a satellite that like to place in orbit. But there are longer range plans for application satellites. NHK the national radio system of Japan has a program to launch a satellite a broadcasting satellite in synchronous orbit over Indonesia roughly and this then would have broadcasting capability ranging from the Arab countries to New Zealand and Japan. This is somewhat off the track but Japan is interested
in Southeast Asia in a number of ways and particularly after the activities in Vietnam might calm down. I think the Japanese are interested in seeing how much they can do business in the area and certainly broadcasting satellites might be one way of tying up a regional interest. Now I think that probably. The Japanese would be able to achieve a degree of success with the MMU rocket in launching the broadcasting satellite however it will take some time. Before the MMU is designed and capable of doing such a thing at the present time the meal was designed primarily for scientific purposes. Some scientists have already been talking about a new rocket called the new. That is a new ad that would be designed to launch the broadcasting satellite. I think 175 is their target date so it's still quite some time off for that. But they really think that they are going to set up these communications satellites and as you say to be able to broadcast from Arabia to New Zealand yes it would have
that capability. It's a proposal put it that way. I don't think that it's had a solid endorsement of the government yet but if NHK had its way that's the way it would like to go I was interested in this type of thing and I suppose there is a suspicion in Japan that that Comsat may be as a global program that different from the original one but maybe too much dominated by the United States. That stock holding in it is so heavily American that what about a chance for the Japanese to have some access to profit of their own. See. I see that that is a fascinating. Prospect. Do they do much broadcasting outside Japanese borders as it is today or we have short wave would reach throughout the world Japanese programs that would be beamed at almost every country. They would have still some problems that could be solved with in Japan by a broadcasting satellite for example. And Japan is a very heavily mountainous country only about 15 percent of it is arable.
Given this case then there you would suspect that there would be areas in the mountains that would not receive a good TV signal with present equipment. And perhaps this could be remedied by satellite though this would be another very direct application for the Japanese TV viewer. I see and so they believe that there is real commercial prospects in their communications satellite sword. Yes taking the long range view I suspect that they do feel that way. They certainly don't want to be left out on anything and this is something you know I found. Going through the whole stream of Japanese. Space Research that while it would certainly be cheaper. And one would achieve presumably the same results by having an American the Nassa rocket launch from Wallops Island let's say a Japanese package into space and all the observation could be carried out the same results. They would not have you see the technological spinoff that would come from building the rocket
and designing the satellite and doing it all by themselves because the Japanese have been importing as you mentioned earlier other people's technology and they have been refining that and they have been making startling innovations. Really amazing ones. But they still have to pay no matter how inventive they are they still have to pay the licensing fee for the original invention that they have now refined so that perhaps they would be a lot of rake off of spinoff in developing rockets as that would have important meaning for the development of science in Japan. So they have some very realistic goals of this. All right what about other aspects of basic research. What else are the Japanese doing. Well you know it's it's a problem for Japan and they have had great breakthroughs. One might say that they have not had that ever from Japan has a scientific revolution. Stem in the sense of a Newtonian advance or a stein type development that is not true.
That has not occurred there. But they have had two Nobel Prize winners in physics and they have had distinguished scientists in other fields not quite so recognized with Nobel Prizes and so on but they have outstanding scientists difficulty is that these people on the front do years of research in Japan tend do exist as isolated peaks in their laboratories and they tend to lack challenge. Or even a conversation that one could get from speaking to one's colleagues. You know that's just a point I wanted to make. These Nobel Prize winners. Is it fair to say that they did their significant work in Japan or have they studied like most of the Japanese in Europe or America. You know I think that most of them I'm not quite sure whether they. Have received the majority of their training in outside Japan or not I think not I think the majority of the training was in Japan. You Kowen
Tama na God the names of the two Japanese physicists and you cowers case his Nobel Prize was granted for work that he had done in the 30s and done in Japan. So that. I think that these people really have been on the frontiers of research and have developed these things within Japan but where are their colleagues you see they would have. Excellent facilities at the laboratories they work at and others working in different facilities at different areas would have excellent facilities and their laboratories but they may be only one or two such facilities facilities in Japan. Area where these facilities could be found. And so there isn't room for mobility. Recently you know it was rather interesting that last summer summer of 67 on Japanese TV the Japanese prime minister was interviewed Prime Minister Sato and the interviewer suggested to him that what Japan needs now be having moved to the frontiers of research is a massive amount of
investment in the capital overhead that science needs big science needs and and people who are concerned about this problem in Japan are talking big science and big government and big investment. That's a lot of money that that one needs to invest into science. And Japan while it's true it's out it's the third most important economic unit in the world the standard of living of Japan is nowhere near so high. It's perhaps 20 seconds. It's a comfortable standard of living and it's moving up. Wages are increasing in Japan and allay the supply of labor is decreasing. So these are a number of problems that the Japanese have to deal with. They would have to deal with the question of providing safe facilities in the basic sciences that would not have. Immediate payoff. It may take a generation before the effects of better school buildings better laboratories in public schools things like this would take as you know a great deal of time to pay off.
But they would pay off easy and perhaps in a generation perhaps in less time. And then this might mean that Japanese science could could develop by itself and develop as startling things for the rest of science throughout the world and not be developing and refining other people's technology but making advances in knowledge fundamental advances of knowledge developing their own technology. And this question of licensing fees which is now a considerable one that the Japanese have to pay and it's a minus factor in their balance of payments. Well this would be remedied. Take for example the transistor that as you know is an American invention but the Japanese made the transistors a cheap and profitable to produce the mass production way but they still have to pay the licensing fee for those transistors too. I guess it's Bell Telephone. I imagine that a similar story can be said about cameras lenses. Yes I'm not sure on that in that area. The Japanese have made startling
progress in that with their cameras. Two very distinguished companies that are producing so well that when I was recently in Germany as a country of course that has been identified with fine optics for a number of years. I saw probably in some stores more Japanese cameras than German ones. And these are the Japanese lands where it been has now reached an original stage. I would get him out of the imitative I think meter I'm not quite so well-informed about Japanese lands as I am about the rocket program so I couldn't be as definite on that but certainly Japanese optics is first rate today and their progress is amazing. What is most interesting I suppose is their method of mass production of cameras. I visited a couple of factories and the most modern system of production
imaginable. Perhaps Japan in a kind of perverted sense benefited by some of the destruction of Japanese industry in the second world war because they were able to start over it not from scratch you see. They had this reservoir of knowledge after all that Japan was a significantly advanced country before the Second World War. But they were able to start over using the new techniques the way it was and they could do things the way they wanted to do it weren't saddled on with with the old cotton seed. Yes as a matter of fact these remarks of yours about changing from imitating to innovation must involve very strange psychological changes in the people. Most Americans think of the Japanese as being imitative people. Do you feel that the universities the research institutes have been changing over the years. Do you feel that they still have certain psychological barriers which will help before they can start thinking on their
own. I would say that they certainly have been changing and the change is moving at a faster pace right now than it was say 10 years ago. It has to change because younger people are beginning to question many of the assumptions of the older people not only theoretical sometimes but in methods of running the laboratory and access to facilities and so on. Such things as a quick meant access to equipment. I heard I happen to know as a matter of fact that the Institute of Sol Institute for solid state physics at the University of Tokyo and their main library is open only until 5 o'clock each evening. And I've known of five physicists who have been anxious to work after that time and I've had to go through a lot of bureaucratic red tape to extend the hours I have access to these books and so on. These things will have to change and they are changing access to equipment is becoming considerably easier and people are being less protective about these devices.
I would say suppose that getting back to the point that I was making a while ago when I was talking about the interview that the Japanese prime minister had on television specifically about the problem of education is that what Japan needs today is a massive injection of social overhead capital investment to provide for big sides. And so we see that that is roughly the state of science in Japan today. We see that Japan has done an astonishing job of moving ahead in the modern world. We see the evidence of Japanese ability in increasing number of Japanese products including automobiles that we encounter these days. Japan has become one of the world's biggest shipbuilders both in the number of ships and the size of ships. Still that's right pointed out Japan has to move ahead. Japan has to try to develop her own technology. Her own basic science she has the technical talent and as a Nobel Prize winners testify she has the ability to be a leading
scientific nation but she has to learn to get beyond the idea of imitation into creation in her own right. And as Mr. Locke has pointed out she is taking these steps and taking them at a great rate and youth which will always be so it is pushing ahead with innovations with changes. The revolution of youth. And so what we see then is that Japan has the means and is rapidly taking the steps to overcome these old problems and to move into the ranks of science and engineering as a new nation with new ideas and with all the other many things that come from basic research. Thank you Roy. You're welcome. This was about science with host Dr. Peter less a man and his guest Roy Locke Heimer of the American University's pealed staff join us again for our next program one another scientific subject of general interest will be discussed.
About science is produced by the California Institute of Technology and originally broadcast by station KPCC in Pasadena California. The programs are made available to the station by the national educational radio network.
About science
About science in Japan
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California Institute of Technology
KPCC-FM (Radio station : Pasadena, Calif.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the state of science in Japan.
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Interview series on variety of science-related subjects, produced by the California Institute of Technology. Features three Cal Tech faculty members: Dr. Peter Lissaman, Dr. Albert R. Hibbs, and Dr. Robert Meghreblian.
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Guest: Lockheimer, F. Roy
Host: Hibbs, Albert R.
Producing Organization: California Institute of Technology
Producing Organization: KPCC-FM (Radio station : Pasadena, Calif.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-40-74 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:26:12
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Chicago: “About science; About science in Japan,” 1968-02-15, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023,
MLA: “About science; About science in Japan.” 1968-02-15. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <>.
APA: About science; About science in Japan. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from