Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"Bizarre" Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Commercials

Does Japan have a military? Technically (and according to the Japanese Constitution, Article 9), no. Article 9 states:

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

The Japanese Self Defense Force was established in 1954. According to a Forbes.com article (9/15/05), Japan's estimated military budget for 2004 was $46 billion dollars, only to be exceeded by the United States, China and Russia. I won't get into the controversies of changing Article 9 and/or what the real role of the Japanese Self Defense Forces is (you can get some info on this in the Forbes.com article) here.

Link to The Front Line on Forbes.com

What I am interested in is the way that the Japanese Self Defense Forces portrays itself in promotional videos. The primary goal of these videos is to recruit new members. Borrowing from Martinez (1997 - see previous post for full citation) again:

representations are political

representations reflect our own concerns, fears, weaknesses

How do these ideas work with these commercials? Check out some of the videos for the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force. You can see these on their official web page:

Link to Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Homepage Commercial Video

Or look at them here via You Tube:

Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Commercial (2006)

This ad is spoofing a popular Japanese superhero genre, sentai ("task force"). One popularly known example in America is "Power Rangers." The same voice actor who narrates in the shows is used in the commercial. The commercial is meant to attract new recruits and give the Maritime Self Defense Force a better image. Read more in a recent Daily Yomiuri article:

Link to "Bizarre" MSDF ad targets young recruits

Link to The Sentai Series Page

Compare this ad with ads from previous years.

Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Commercial (2004)

This commercial is a little more along the lines of what you would expect for a military recruiting commercial. But why the use of English (in this commercial and the next one as well)?

Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Commercial (2003)

SEAMAN SHIP? Many people have a hard time believing this is an official commercial. It is. Really. Apparently this ad was played on three different billboards in Shibuya (in Tokyo) 30 times a day in March of 2004. Does this remind you of the Village People's In the Navy (1979)?

Read reactions to the ad on Japan Today:

Link to Impressions of MSDF ad on Japan Today

How do you feel about these representations? What concerns, fears and weaknesses are being reflected? Does it make you curious as to how the $46 billion per year is being spent? Does it make you want to join? How effective do you think these ads are?

No comments: