Cultural Aspects of Postmodern Military in the Case of Japan Self Defense Forces

Monday, 16 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Gen NOGAMI, University of Tsukuba, Japan
This presentation investigates military ‘postmodernism’, focusing on Japan Self Defense Forces(JSDF), particularly its strategy of public relations for recruitment.

It is well known ‘Postmodern Military’ framework(Moskos, 2000) enables international comparative studies of armed forces confronting the age of ‘New War’ and new tasks such as disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.

However, those studies seem to exclude JSDF, with fifth largest budget in the world. I focus on JSDF and provide a cultural approach to the postmodern military framework.

Of course, the framework had already been examined from cultural aspects such as Hajjar(2014). He pointed out its tremendous complexity, fragmentation and flexibility armed forces face today. However, those examinations need to become more ‘cultural’ one, in other words more interpretative one, at the days when armed forces use the popular culture aggressively, offering their equipment and human resource to movie production for example.

For that, I think self-presentation and cognitive manipulation in recruitment is an indispensable theme for comparative research today when mass drafting had passed.

Research on recruitment activities of JSDF adds a concrete example in the framework because of its unique cultural origin. After the defeat of WWII and demilitarized, JSDF was born as ‘National Police Reserve’ at first. Thereafter, despite its huge budget, much consideration has been paid to not pose a threat to Japan and Asian citizens, by using unique nomenclature and interpretation for its reasons for being, like its naming of ‘Self Defense’. Many contradictions can be seen around it, but it also results JSDF gains high degree of freedom in using semantics on contemporary culture.

JSDF's recruitment activities sometimes impairs its basic value such as toughness and masculinity(Frühstück, 2000). Furthermore, JSDF often adopts ‘cute’ icons recently for the purpose to get applicants.

Moskos' framework is challenged by whether it is postmodern military or not.