THE Bush administration believes there are valid reasons for the United States to co-develop the FSX fighter jet with Japan. If that's the case, then why wouldn't a similar agreement in which the roles of the US and Japanese industries are reversed also be justified? Japan has an infant aircraft industry; we are the world leaders in aircraft manufacturing. Under the FSX agreement, we will show Japan how to build the FSX, and Japan will get 60 percent of both the development and production work generated by the project. The US will get 40 percent of the development and production work.
The US, on the other hand, has an infant high-definition television (HDTV) industry, while Japan is a leading world competitor in this newest high-technology industry. Why shouldn't we require Japan to share its HDTV technology with us, in order to sell its HDTV products in the US? Furthermore, if Japan can demand 60 percent of the development and production work for the FSX, then we have every bit as much right to require that 60 percent of the development and production of HDTVs sold here be done by American firms.
Some might say that national security is a factor in the FSX agreement, which makes Japan's demands for technology, development, and production sharing justified. But what could be more directly related to national security than the ability to produce state-of-the-art high-technology electronics on which most modern weapons systems depend?
High-definition television is the technology driver for the next generation of electronics that will dominate and redefine the workplace and transform defense and other electronics products in a matter of just a few years. America's national security demands that we have a capability in this critical new industry.
What's good for the FSX should be good for HDTV. Don't prohibit the sale of Japanese HDTVs in our market; but, as in the case of the FSX, force Japan to share its technology with us, and we will manufacture those HDTVs sold here using a majority American content.
If, as the administration claims, Japan's national interests justify building its own fighter plane, then we have the right to ensure the preservation of our electronics industry, on which our defense strength directly depends.
To be strong, America must help Japan and our other allies meet their legitimate economic and defense needs. But we must also keep our essential industries competitive and strong and fight to expand markets. If the FSX agreement is a legitimate way to address Japan's defense needs, I believe a similar agreement may also be our best hope for maintaining the competitiveness of the US electronics industry.