How do you boost the number of soldiers at your disposal? Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the natural choice is to, erm, recruit a J-Pop star:
"Working for the Self-Defence Forces presents boundless dreams - like the earth, ocean and the sea," says Haruka Shimazaki of the all-girl group AKB48 in a new 30-second commercial distributed by the Defence Ministry.Ah, peace. Of course peace. Because of Japan's pacifist constitution, right? It's all about the peacekeeping.
"There's work that you can only do here," she says with a smile. A pink heart-shaped cherry petal spins as she points to the English phrase "You AND PEACE."
It was just a coincidence that the ad, part of a broader recruitment drive, came out just when Abe's Cabinet was reinterpreting the pacifist, post-World War Two constitution to allow Japan's 224,526-strong military to defend friendly nations under attack, said a Defence Ministry spokesman.Japan very much moving from 'pacifist' to a 'they started it, what am I going to do, just walk away' constitution then. Japan wouldn't need to be pulling quite so many people into the forces if they weren't expecting to be having more fights in the future.
At least the Japanese Defence department admit they're being cynical:
"We want to give a friendly image and make it easier for youth to apply to the Self-Defence Forces," said the spokesman, who asked not to be named, citing ministry policy. "We chose a member of AKB48 because the group is popular and well-known among high school students, the main target of our recruitment."And, given there's been 140 members of AKB48 over the last decade, they also know something about recruiting people to high-turnover positions.
It's surely only a matter of time before Perrie Edwards is popping up trying to coax people into the SAS.