"The IPKat has never seen the MITI report and wonders whether an English version of it exists. He has however heard this figure, sometimes inflated to anything up to 75%, cited as evidence that the Japanese have simply stolen and successfully commercialised vast swathes of British innovation -- a proposition which the Kat feels cannot be supported by evidence".The Kat has now just received an email from the admirable Peter Prowse, who handles the CIPA press releases. Writes Peter:
"I read your piece commenting on CIPA's press release quoting the 'MITI report'. I first saw this claim reported in several normally reputable publications (eg 'The Engineer') way back in the early 1990s. I've been referring to it - off and on - ever since.The IPKat congratulates Peter on his detective work, and for his determination to establish the truth.
Your comments - and a request from Lawrence Smith-Higgins at the IPO to direct him towards the original report - led me to do some digging. I have now unearthed an article by David Budworth, published in the New Scientist on 10 April 1986, in which he traces how the myth arose.
According to Budworth, there was a report from the Science and Technology Agency of Japan, a summary of which was published (in English) in 1981 by Japan's Foreign Press Centre. The Japanese report was itself based on a survey conducted for the National Science Foundation in the USA. The erroneous references to a 'MITI' report appear to have been introduced by the Sunday Times in 1985, reporting on a Bow Group Memorandum that drew on the 1981 Japan Foreign Press Centre story.
So there we have it. There was a survey. It showed that Britain was quite good at 'radical innovations'; the survey was reported by the Japanese Science and Technology Agency, picked up by the Bow Group and then misreported in the Sunday Times."
More British myths here and here