Weapons exports are big business, and with the end of a ban on them in place since the end of World War II, Japanese manufacturers are getting in the international war business. Mitsubishi, Kawasaki, Toshiba, and other brands better known for consumer electronics are poised to sell submarines, planes, and radar equipment to foreign powers, reports the Washington Post. Japan hosted its first defense trade show in May—just over a year after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe removed the ban. Restrictions remain on selling weapons to countries involved in conflict, however, in keeping with the country’s pacifist constitution. "We will more actively cooperate on defense equipment and technology with our ally the US and other countries to maintain regional peace and stability," Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera says in a statement, per Bloomberg.
Despite the relative freedom the manufacturers now have, the military trade show was lacking in actual weaponry. There were no missiles, rifles, or grenade launchers on display, although Japanese companies do make and sell weapons within Japan. Most Japanese oppose Abe’s decision to lift the weapons export ban, the Post reports, and even military industry employees have trouble reconciling international gun sales with a staunchly pacifist image. "If we suddenly started exporting in-your-face weapons, personally, I would find that difficult," admits a helicopter sales rep for Kawasaki. Partially driving the change: The strength of neighboring China and the potential for sales in Southeast Asia. (Read more Japan stories.)