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Japan's `technopolis' idea

The Technopolis Strategy: Japan, High Technology, and the Control of the Twenty-First Century, by Sheridan Tatsuno. New York: Prentice Hall Press/A Brady Book. 298 pp. $19.95. A market researcher for Dataquest, born and brought up in California's Silicon Valley, warns that Americans are in for a rude shock. Although we have been the leading innovators in the past, Tatsuno argues that Japan is passing America in many fields of research and development. While America places much of its technical brainpower in military research and development, the Japanese are forging ahead in civilian fields such as supercomputers, robots, ceramics, biotechnology, and solar energy. In Japan today, one hears less about imitating and more about exploring new frontiers and producing creative people. At the heart of this transformation is the ``Technopolis Concept'' announced in 1980: a plan to build a network of 19 high-tech cities throughout Japan, serving as engines of economic growth in the 21st century. Much of this challenging, well-written book is devoted to describing these Japanese ``new towns.'' Mr. Tatsuno concludes that America should pursue a similar ``bottom-up'' style of planning.

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