Japan military goes on charm offensive to soften image
Published on Apr 14, 2014 11:49 AM
TOKYO (AFP) - Pacifist Japan is gradually learning to love its military, with an apparent public relations campaign under way to soften its image, featuring online popularity contests, a much-touted soprano vocalist and dating events.
The armed forces are also visible in youth culture, with young teens tuning in to "Girl und Panzer" a cartoon about schoolgirls who do battle in tanks. Japan's most popular Twitter hashtag in 2013 was #KanColle, a reference to an online game in which anthropomorphised warships compete to out-pretty each other as young girls.
The image change comes as nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to give the Self Defence Forces (SDF) more money and scope to act as a normal military might, at a time of rising tensions with China.
The SDF has not fired a shot in battle since a battered and broken Japan surrendered in 1945, accepting a United States-led occupation that would last until 1952.
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