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Japanese play at combat, wary of war

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 01:30

Mock military games gain popularity as Japanese politics turn hawkish under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Elly Park reports.

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These Japanese young men are participating in a mock military exercise. Armed with air guns that shoot plastic pellets they are the devotees of so-called "survival games", which are increasingly popular in a land whose soldiers have not gone into battle since World War Two. Many participants say they want to keep it that way. SOUNDBITE: 24 Year Old, Kento Atari, saying (Japanese) "This is just sports or recreation. I think it's different from war, and I'm against war." SOUNDBITE: 28 Year Old Tetsuya Otsuki, saying (Japanese) "I honestly don't have any opinions. But I do have a feeling that it's better not to fight." Japanese have long lived with a paradox. The post-war U.S.-drafted constitution bans the country from having any armed forces, yet their "Self-Defense Forces" devoted exclusively to defending Japan, has grown bigger than that of the UK. Now Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to expand the scope for military operations abroad, reinterpreting the constitution to allow defense of friendly countries under attack, or "collective self-defense". The debate has split and confused the public in a country that identifies itself as a pacifist nation, yet has the seventh-largest defense budget in the world.

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Japanese play at combat, wary of war

Friday, June 12, 2015 - 01:30