Japan’s armed forces have come a long way since the Imperial Army days so aptly portrayed in Letters From Iwo Jima. No more kamikaze suicide fighters, no more scary, serious, nationalistic fervor. Cuteness has extended beyond the streets of Tokyo to the war zones in Iraq in the form of a little mascot named Prince Pickles.
In this symbolic official cartoon from the Defense Ministry, Pickles is tugging charmingly on the sleeve of an Iraqi official. I’m not exactly sure why, but my guess is that he’s either asking him if he could bring him some tea, or recruiting him for a game of hopscotch.
"Prince Pickles is our image character because he’s very endearing, which is what Japan’s military stands for," a Defense Ministry official told the Japan Times. Not exactly what you expect to hear from one of the world’s superpowers, but then again, we are in the age of American hegemony, and Japan is arguably its most loyal pet. And pets are supposed to be endearing and cute.