Japan's Decision on Computers For Schools Miffs Administration

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Copyright 1988 A report published in The Wall Street Journal indicates that Deputy Trade Representative Michael Smith recently sent a letter to the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry to protest its decision to award to the Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. an exclusive contract to produce an operating system for an educational computer.

An operating system is the software that tells a computer how to execute other programs. Although the United States is a leader in developing operating systems, the Administration apparently is concerned that the development of a unique operating system for Japan's educational computers could be an effort to challenge American dominance in the field.

The Japanese Ministry of Educa4tion proposes to use the operating system to develop a basic "architecture" or design for 700,000 computers to train high-school students in basic computer operations.

Matsushita proposes to use an operating system called "The Real-Time Operating System Nucleus," developed at the Tokyo University specifically to meet Japanese computing needs for an operating system.

An official for the miti discounted Mr. Smith's complaint, according to the report, saying that a number of subsidiaries of American computer manufacturers in Japan plan to use the Tokyo University system in prototype computers they will submit in bids for the educational computer.

Other American companies, such as the Apple Corporation, the leading maker of educational computers in the United States, have said that the Japanese Computer Education Center should use a broader base for its selection of suppliers.--pw

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