The Militarization of Japan?

I study Japan. But I am not very familiar with its international relation, except to the extent of which I had studied it in school and what I’ve read in the news media. I certainly can do more to understand its relationship with its neighboring countries, specifically the Koreas–North and South–and China. I have read on different occasions–as I’m sure many of you have–that there is a general disturst of Japan in East Asia and its ever growing military role overseas. There are grumbles from China that Japan harbors a desire to expand its military influence in the region.

Well, allow me to offer some additional information. One of the interesting aspects of Japan is its ability to sell things through public ads, Japan spends millions–if not billions–of dollars on advertising research and campaigns to reach a certain market. As with any culture, the ads are designed to connect with the target audience in an attempt to have them “buy” a product. Well, there is a large video billboard in Shibuya, Tokyo for the Japan Marine Self-Defense Force. The name of the organization might be misleading. It is not a National Guard or a Coast Guard. The JMSDF maintains an impressive fleet of ships–and submarines–that would make the Navy of many countries proud. The technology is there, as you might well imagine. But is there an overwhelming nationalistic desire to expand Japan’s influence through its military?

A student of mine–I don’t want to use his name, so I’ll give you his initials, R.O.Y.–clued me into a recruiting commercial for the JMSDF. And he laughed rhetorically, “How could anyone think that Japan is trying to expand its militaritary presence in the region?” Well, I watched the video billboard aimed at attracting young urban Japanese men and women to serve in the defense of their homeland. And I must admit, I had to laugh with him. I showed the clip to M, and she just said, “How embarassing!”

Well, I think maybe you should consider this billboard the next time you hear discussions of Japan’s militaristic expansion. Is it some sort of sinister plot to lull other countries? Is it a way to garner interest, only to indoctorate the Japanese youth once they enter the JMSDF? Is this simply a reflection of the direction in which Japan and its youth is going–cute entertainment?Below is a link to a page I threw together that will show you the US Navy recruit ad–for perspective–and a link to the Japanese ad–given J technology, they still don’t know the Interent, and the video may take some time to load… but its good for a laugh.

The Query: Given the fact that this ad is aimed specifically at young Japanese men and women to serve in the Marine Self-Defense Force (Navy), what do you think is JMSDF’s impression of the young people of Japan? Are they targeting people who are hardcore, take-no-prisoner types of recruits? Or do they think they will garner more interest by presenting themselves as possible back-up dancers for Saijo Hideki’s version of the Village People’s “YMCA”? Please take a look and give me your thoughts of this… um… er… recruiting commercial.

* * * Compare the two marine/navy branches now * * *

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