‘Sexy and cute’: Japan’s new strategy to recruit soldiersOn 01/31/2019 by admin
The series “National Defence – Men/Women” covers the daily lives of 60 service men and women including jet pilots, anti-missile aegis destroyer navigators and gunnery mates – showing a side that most military magazines would not.
Soldiers were directed to pose like pop stars or fashion models in or out of uniform to maximize their charm, some even going shirtless.
Japan’s ageing society and decreasing young population have military recruiters struggling to hire new service men and women to sustain the 225,000-strong forces.
In a fresh solution, they had some of their service women put on miniskirts, lick on ice creams and jump while smiling in front of their equipment while having their photo taken.
Yasushi Kojima, Lieutenant Commander and a public relations officer of the maritime force, said even soldiers need to be “cute” to make young people aspire to join.
“I think this approach definitely helps our message to be delivered to the younger generation. As Japan is known to value ‘cuteness’ this collection can work as a window to let people know the real face of the Maritime Self-Defence Force,” Kojima said.
The promotional campaign was taken up by the participants reluctantly as first, but ultimately enthusiastically.
“At the beginning, it was hard to imagine myself in a magazine, but when I received the published collection, I was glad that I was looking better than I thought in the pictures,” said Tomaki Yamashita, a navigator for one of Japan’s anti-missile Aegis destroyers, .
Seaman Yoshimasa Takahashi, one of the 39 servicemen featured in the Men’s version, even received a fan letter from a university girl after the collections were published.
“I’d never received such a letter, so it surprised me. But it’s obviously a pleasant thing to know that there are supporters of what I’m doing,” said Takahashi who is keeping in contact with his newest fan.
Over 16,000 albums were sold since it was published in May, and the publisher Takeshobo says that this is “not bad” for a non-celebrity genre.
Publishers are considering an additional print run as the collections steadily sell off the shelves of bookstores.