"Defense Ministry turns to 'Lolita' manga character to reveal inner self"
From the successor of the government ministry that gave the world Pearl Harbor and the Rape of Nanking now comes a cutesy little girl cartoon character dressed as a maid with a hawkish stuffed teddy bear to give a simple explanation of Japan's defense policies, according to Cyzo (August).
Growing numbers of government agencies have used borderline pedophile manga characters to promote their activities in recent years, but it's the Defense Ministry's little girl character that is attracting attention among Japan's otaku, the monthly says.
In the "Manga de Yomu Boeisho Hakusho (Defense Ministry White Papers in Manga)" series printed in 2005, a little girl wearing "Lolita" fashions and an apron is involved in exchanges -- sometimes violently -- with a hawkish stuffed teddy bear as they rumble over the way Japan should defend itself.
News of the story spread through Japan's Internet and by word of mouth and turned the manga into a hit, with second and third editions hitting the bookstores rapidly. It seemed a given that the publisher, Japan Defense Foundation for Mutual Aid, would be given the contract to print last year's manga version of the ministry's white papers, but things didn't quite turn out that way.
"Publishing rights are decided in public bidding and another company undercut us," a spokesman from the Japan Defense Foundation for Mutual Aid tells Cyzo. "But it was such a popular book that we didn't want its success to end after only a single year. We asked the same author of the 2005 edition to draw up another manga using the same characters in a way that would help readers to understand what's going on with the defense of Japan."
The new book "Heiwa no Kuni no Nebaarando (The Neverland of the Peaceful Country)" has also proved to be as popular as its predecessor, with sales going well since its January release.
Japan Defense Foundation for Mutual Aid is confident its cutesy manga characters can drum up plenty of support for an industry that revolves around defending people.
"It's pretty serious contents," a group spokesman tells Cyzo. "But we figure the manga characters are easy to relate to and will make the difficult issues more accessible for kids and young adults to understand." (By Ryann Connell)