March 6, 1989 | Executive Memorandum on Asia
ne main argument raised by opponents of the FS-X deal is that the U.S. will be giving Japan advanced technology that Tokyo will use to develop a civil aerospace industry that eventually will compete with U.S. firms. This argument make s little sense, however, because the F- 16 represents 1970s technology that is not relevant to developing civilian jet transports. Furthermore, Japan will not be getting any more technology than the eight other countries (including Denmark, Israel, and Th e Netherlands) that already co-produce the F-16. Critics also say Japan gets a better deal than the U.S. from the FS-X agreement. The reasons: Japan will get F-16 technology that cost the U.S. $7 billion and the deal is vague on how much General Dynamics w i ll share in a $7 billion to $8 billion production run for the planned 130 fighters. It seems, however, that General Dynamics understands that its production share will be comparable to its development contribution. Gaining Advanced Japanese Technology. A m ajor benefit to the U.S. of the FS-X agreement is that the U.S. will receive any new technology developed by the Japanese. This is unprecedented in U.S.-Japanese agreements. Indeed, U.S.-Japan defense technology,;5...: cooperation has been slow, despite a 1983 agreement which committed Japan to export defense-related technology to the U.S. The technology@-sharing aspect of the agreement, in fact, has been controversial in Japan because of Tokyo's self-imposed ban on weapons exports. As such, the FS-X- deal is a major advance on the 1983 agreement. Japan will make a significant investment in developing advanced composite material wings and phased radars; this technology the U.S. could receive at no cost. Some American critics of the FS-X deal want Japan to b u y an existing U.S. design "off the shelf." This would yield the greatest trade revenues to the U.S. and would not risk transferring any American technology to Japan. Yet this never has been an option. Japan has not purchased fighters off the shelf since 1 9 55. While the FS-X deal makes good sense from an American perspective, Congress should scrutinize it carefully. Congress has 30 days in which it can veto the agreement after the Administration notifies Congress of the sale. Congress should use this period to make clear that the U.S. expects a substantial share of co-production and wants guarantees that U.S. technology will not be sold to enemies. The Administration can also press Japan to buy from the U.S. in-flight tanker refueling aircraft and AWACS airc r aft that Japan needs. Allaying Fears. The FS-X agreement increases U.S. and Japanese , military interdependence. Already, Japan is cooperating with the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, purchasing advanced Aegis radars for new destroyers, and increasing j oint defense planning and military exercises. This U.S.- Japanese cooperation is needed to deter Soviet military threat in Asia. But a growing Japanese military, coinciding with increased Japanese political assertiveness, increases the anxiety of U.S. fri e nds and allies who remember Japan's imperialist aggression. Japan building its own jet fighter may only confirm these fears. The FS-X'deal helps allay - these fears by increasing the closeness of the U.S. and Japanese military alliance. On balance, theref ore, the FS-X deal makes sense for Japan and the United States. Roger A. Brooks Director, Asian Studies Center
Richard D. Fisher Policy AnalystFor further information: Paul A. Gigot, "Japan-Anxiety Causes a Dogfight Over F-16 Accord," 7he Wall S&eet Joumali February 24,1989, p. A 16.