In April, the government of Japan’s conservative prime minister, Shinzo Abe, lifted a ban from the 1970s that restricted arms exports. However, the opportunities for Japan to grab market share won’t be in building entire weapons systems such as jet fighters or aircraft carriers. Japanese companies have a competitive edge in building high-end components, particularly electronics. “You may have fighter jets and warships from different manufacturers, but the electronics inside those ships and planes have to be able to communicate and share data with each other,” says Robbin Laird, a defense industry consultant with International Communications & Strategic Assessments in Arlington, Va. “What you really care about are the electronics inside, and that’s what Japan does best.”
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