Excluding countries with mandatory enlistment into the armed forces, branches of the army, navy et al are always looking for a few good men (and women).
In Japan, with recruitment stagnating - probably because with China and Russia pissed off at Japan for stealing their islands - the chance of war is higher than its been in a long time.
Who the fug wants to join an army voluntarily when there's a chance you could be killed? This isn't WWII or earlier! No one really makes romantic, adventure war movies anymore, because yeah, you can get a limb blown off - sometimes by your own friendly fire.
Still, Japan wants to boost recruitment for its Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), and has chosen to do so with a popularity contest whereby we can pick and choose the sexiest male and female member of Japan's naval services.
I'm not putting down the people who work in these professions. You hopefully know what you are actually signing up for in times of peace, knowing that things like China's aggressive stance on the southern islands could lead to actual war.
But… a popularity contest?
Is it sexist if it's picking both a male and female sexy winner? Uh… yes… yes, it is. Maybe ugly people want to join the navy, but now feel like they are the stuff swabbed off a dirty gaijin cutter.
But wait… they aren't actually calling it a beauty contest… it's smart marketing…
"Young people in Japan have a lot of options, and they don’t know much about the JMSDF," says Lt. Cdr. Nobokuni Takashi (surname first), a JMSDF spokesman (spokesperson, really, but I figure many of you may have problems determining Japanese gender from unfamiliarity with Japanese names). "We’re hoping they will look at this and think, ‘That’s something I’d like to do.’"
The 'Mr. & Ms. JMSDF' contest is aimed squarely at a young, technologically adept audience. Voters are asked to download a smart-phone app with professionally produced video profiles of each candidate and an interactive quiz about the JMSDF.
Mr. & Mrs.? WTF JMSDF!
(The above line shows how English will be undecodeable to future generations.)
I'm assuming the male and female winners won't have to be married to each other or anyone else?
Really… how archaic… Mister and Mrs? Not even Miss or Ms? What about Prince or Sailor Moon?
The contest consists of six candidates, all of whom were selected by the JMSDF staff.
Knowing their target recruitment market, (Surprise! Not.), all contestants are relatively young and photogenic, with service occupations that would appear challenging or adventurous.
Contestants are (surname first):
- Entry 1: Ichihashi Tetsuya, a submarine rescue diver.
- Entry 2: Mori Naoto, a male sailor who boards suspected pirate ships off the coast of Somalia;
- Entry 3: Yokoi Takanobu, an airborne electronics specialist;
- Entry 1: Aoyama Nobuko, the Lt. pilot of a Lockheed P-3C Orion fixed wing patrol plane cruising the East China Sea looking for invading Charlies; That's her in the photo above.
- Entry 2: Tsurusaki Matsuri, air traffic controller.
- Entry 3: Matsuda Junko, a shipboard navigator.
The “Mr. & Ms. JMSDF” contest is not for old buggers (like me) who are not hip with their technological electronic media. You need a smart phone, and then you can download an app (application - I'm going to say it's a fancy word for a computer site that now has an icon on whatever constitutes your desktop) that has professionally-produced (someone got paid) video profiles of each of the six contestants… plus it has an interactive quiz about the JMSDF.
The app has been downloaded more than 10,000 times since it launched last month, making it one of the most popular in Japan.
(Uh… you know they are now tracking you… waiting until you are alone before smacking you over the head and shanghaiing you onto a submarine for 'training'. Yes… Shanghai and shanghai are related.
As of this writing, over 100,000 votes have been cast, with the submarine diver (male) and ship navigator (female) lead each category.
The contest winner will be featured in a lengthy video posted on the JMSDF website and social media and may take part in recruiting and public awareness campaigns.