During WWII, Japanese fighters and bombers were manufactured by Mitsubishi, including the A6M Zero, the meatball plane that attacked Pearl Harbor. Propellers and fuel tanks were made by Yamaha.

After the war, Japan was forced to demilitarize. Mitsubishi shifted its manufacturing capabilities to making cars. Yamaha switched to motorcycles.

So here’s Sharp, known for its LCD TVs, announcing that it will repurpose its clean rooms to mass-produce face masks.

A clean room is a pressurized facility used for semiconductor fabrication. Because a speck of dust is enough to short out submicron circuitry, everything has to be super sterile. Perfect for producing N95 face masks. Supply chains are too messed up to manufacture TV sets anyway.

Could we do that here? What if the Cold War ended, and instead of lobbying for continued expansion of national defense, companies like Lockheed and Raytheon shifted to a more socially redeeming line of work?

The F-35 Lightning II cost $407 billion to develop. Who is this for, anyway? What third world country are we going to sic this on?

Lockheed Martin could be making motorcycles! Let’s get an American manufacturer into World Superbike for once. Why should the Japanese and Italians have all the fun?

Fun fact: Ducati, which holds the most race wins in all of World Superbike history, was founded as a radio company in Marconi’s hometown of Bologna. During WWII, they made military radios and machine gun parts for the Fascists.

We’re about to face massive medical supply shortages because all our stuff comes from China. What about all those abandoned manufacturing facilities in the US? Could Intel repurpose its decommissioned clean rooms in Santa Clara (where I used to work!) and start making face masks? Or would they be hamstrung by FDA regulations?

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