By Sachiko Sakamaki - Dec 27, 2011 Japan to Ease Restrictions on Weapons Exports - Bloomberg Japan said it would ease some restrictions on weapons exports and allow them for international projects, resurrecting a proposal made last year to benefit the countryâ€™s defense industry. Japanâ€™s government announced the change today in a paper distributed to reporters in Tokyo. The trade ministry will make a ruling on each export case individually, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said in a briefing. The decision follows Japanâ€™s move last week to award Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) a contract to supply F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, a deal Fujimura said today is unrelated to the export rule change. Lockheed has about 700 F-35 orders from overseas, and the U.S. contractor will build 42 of the planes for Japan, according to Japanâ€™s defense ministry. Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011), Toray Industries Inc. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (7012), are crucial suppliers in the civilian aerospace industry. Tokyo-based Toray supplies carbon fiber for Boeing Co.â€™s newest passenger jet, the 787 Dreamliner, as well as for European rival Airbus SAS. â€œIt has become the mainstream among developed countries to improve the performance of defense equipment and to deal with rising costs of equipment by participation in international joint development and production projects,â€ according to a section of Japanâ€™s defense policy guidelines from last year. â€œJapan will study measures to respond to such major changes.â€ Japan has restricted weapons exports since the 1960s and 1970s, citing the nationâ€™s pacifist constitution and the need to prevent Cold War enemies from obtaining arms.