The MIT Japan Program has been chosen by the Technology Administration Office of the United States Department of Commerce as one of two training sites for the US-Japan Manufacturing Technology Fellowship (MTF) Program.
The prospective fellows, all manufacturing employees of leading US firms such as Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Motorola, Xerox, AT&T and others, will arrive at MIT on October 12 for nine weeks of intensive Japanese language and cultural training under the Japan Program's auspices. They will then go to Japan, where, after an additional month of training to be provided by JETRO (the Japan External Trade Organization), they will be placed on the manufacturing floors of such Japanese corporations as Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Fujitsu, Fuji Xerox, Mitsubishi Motors, Komatsu and Oki Electric.
The MTF Program was established by the Commerce Department in cooperation with MITI (the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry) to help improve American access to Japanese centers of manufacturing excellence. It is a ground-breaking government-to-government initiative that was announced last year by former Vice President Dan Quayle, and it has the full support of the Clinton Administration, which feels that it offers a unique opportunity for manufacturing engineers from American companies to experience life not only in Japan, but in a Japanese manufacturing company.
The program is aimed at highly talented and motivated American engineers who are seeking the opportunity to learn about advanced Japanese manufacturing techniques by working on-site in a factory in Japan for up to a year. This type of person-to-person technology transfer has been shown to be the most effective method of disseminating leading-edge technology methods. The program is also designed to give American and Japanese manufacturing personnel the chance to build professional networks, thereby expanding international business contacts and contributing to good relations between the United States and Japan.
In choosing the MIT Japan Program as a training site, the Department of Commerce cited it as "the leading center for training Japan-aware professionals." The Program was established in 1981 to educate American scientists, engineers and managers about Japan and to promote closer ties between them and their Japanese counterparts. It is now the largest, most comprehensive and most widely copied center of applied Japanese studies in the country. Having been a pioneer in its field, the program, through its involvement with the MTF initiative, continues to be part of the evolving effort to enable technologically sophisticated Americans to work effectively and as equals with their Japanese counterparts.
A version of this article appeared in the October 6, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 9).