Al Jazeera America analyzes Japan’s remilitarization and Shinzō Abe’s (Japan’s Prime Minister) propagandistic recruitment video with criticism and skepticism.
Dexter Thomas writes at Al Jazeera America:
In the past, Japan’s military has been reserved strictly for defence – hence its official title, the Self Defence Force (SDF). But thanks to this new reinterpretation of the constitution, the only thing that is necessary for military mobilisation is for one of Japan’s allies to be “attacked”. This is a scary prospect if we consider that Japan’s biggest ally is the US (and when we consider how many enemies the US has made over the past few years).
Perhaps the pros and cons of re-militarisation is a topic worth discussing. Unfortunately for the people of Japan, and of the East Asian region, this discussion has never occurred, as Abe’s administration is making the decision for them.
In response, there has been an unprecedented amount of opposition. Protests are happening every other day, and seem to only be growing in size and intensity.
Some Euro-American press outlets have grazed the surface of this phenomenon, but they seem to be missing the gravity of the situation. Perhaps because reporters are unable to see the Japanese as anything but docile and passive, or because they are attempting to portray the protesters in a “respectable” light, they have overlooked the anger and confusion that is beginning to grip Japan.
That is, protesters aren’t stopping at writing letters, or rousing chants of “save our Constitution”. Many of the protesters are much less polite. They are out in the streets, calling for Abe’s head: shouting “Die, Abe”, or “Fascists, go to hell!” and holding up posters with Abe’s face in crosshairs.
Abe strikes back
While they have clearly underestimated the magnitude of the opposition, the Abe administration seems to have anticipated some resistance. The same day the government made the announcement, they also released an SDF recruitment commercial (Youtube link). [DISINFO EDITOR'S NOTE: The video Thomas linked has been removed. I found another, but it is in Japanese with no subtitles.] This 15-second clip stars Haruka Shimazaki of AKB 48, Japan’s most famous idol girl group.
We might wonder if a male spokesperson might be a better choice: for example, a member of Exile, a J-pop supergroup of 19 men. They are one of the most successful and recognisable pop groups in Japan, with their own magazine, TV show, and over a dozen chart-topping albums. They regularly appear half-clothed on advertisements and billboards, and represent the pinnacle of mass-market masculinity. Also, Abe clearly has access to them: He invited them to perform at an ASEAN banquet only a few months ago. Wouldn’t an Exile member in fatigues be a great encouragement to get young men to rush to the nearest recruitment centre?
In short: no, because it would be too realistic. If one of these popular young men appeared in a military advertisement, it would be too easy to imagine that young man being killed in a war – and, by extension, for a young man watching the commercial to imagine themselves dying. Or, for anyone with a son or brother to imagine that person dying.
Instead, the aim behind using AKB 48 seems to be an attempt to appeal to a specific male desire to protect “their” women, all while cleverly sidestepping the possibility of danger.
Read more here.