Many of us grew up with PlayStation 2 from Sony as one of our favorite consoles, and still, 22 years after its launch, we still have it active in our homes. But few knew that, at the time, it was so powerful that the Japanese government considered it “a weapon that would help terrorists.”
The story seems surreal, science fiction, a plot from Mission Impossible or some other Hollywood production. But it’s real.
IGN, in the year 2000, spoke on the subject, citing The Nihon Keizai Shimbun. Japan’s Ministry of Commerce imposed a shipping limit on PlayStation units, as certain components in the system were classified as military weapons.
Japan’s ban on countries considered “havens for terrorists”
A spokesperson for the agency explained that the PlayStation 2 it could be exported to any part of the world, except “Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea”. The fear was latent that one of these powers, considered patrons of international terrorism, would obtain Sony’s technology to turn it into weapons.
The Japanese authorities pointed to a key component of the Sony console: the GPU (image processing technology) as well as memory cards (encryption technology) to read data from external memory media. These looked very much like the elements of a missile guidance system!
Benjamin Guernsey, a spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment in 2000, noted:
“We have said since the launch of the PlayStation 2 that it is an export controlled product. Under Japanese export regulations, if you have a CPU (computer processing unit) with this much power and memory card technology, and of this standard, it exceeds the established guidelines.”
The Sony spokesman qualified:
“It is not necessarily because they fear that it will be diverted to military or terrorist use, it’s just that the product passes certain technological standards that automatically mean it receives an export control license.”
The most outstanding features of the Sony PlayStation 2
The PlayStation 2 was released in Japan on March 4, 2000, arriving in the United States on October 26 of that year and in Europe on the following November 24. 155 million consoles were sold, ranking among the most popular in history.
It used a Chip Emotion Engine (128 bit) running at 294.912 MHz at the time of its release. In the most recent models it reached 299 MHz.
Its GPU had the graphics synthesizer chip running at 147.456 MHz.