TOKYO—Some four months after Japan agreed to join the Strategic Defense Initiative championed by the Reagan administration, the scope and nature of its participation remain unclear.

“We have only just finished studying what kind of cooperation and what kind of regulations are involved,” said Koji Inoue, assistant section chief of the Aircraft and Ordinance division of Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). “So far, no specific corporations. have been named because we are still defining the various ways companies can apply for participation.”

The U.S. Defense Department has listed 16 fields in which Japanese expertise might advance the SDI program. These include optical data storage, gallium arsenide semiconductors, microwave and millimeter-wave technology, composite materials and superconduc tors. Most of Japan’s major electronics companies have expressed interest in the project

Yet the two countries have differing views of SDI. According to Koji Fushimi, a member of the national Diet...

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