Japan votes for Mr and Ms in sailor popularity poll

Japan votes for Mr and Ms in sailor popularity poll

TOKYO - Japan's military is inviting the public to vote for their favourite officers in an online contest complete with clips of a muscular serviceman stripped to the waist and doing pull-ups.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) picked three men and three women from its 46,000-strong roster to go head-to-head in a popularity poll for the title "Mr. & Ms. JMSDF".

The entrants, who are all in their 20s or 30s, each have a one-and-a-half minute video showing them at work in various naval situations.

An official at the JMSDF said the contest was a way to raise the profile of the force.

"We want people to know what kind of missions we carry out and to publicise not just our equipment but the people who operate it," he said, noting interest appeared to be higher when the public had specific individuals they could identify with.

More than 123,000 votes have been cast since the competition opened in September, with the dashing Tetsuya Ichihashi, Petty Officer 3rd Class, head and shoulders above the other men.

Footage posted on YouTube shows the well-groomed Ichihashi in training for a deep sea dive, determined but unafraid to admit his feelings.

"I'm very tense, and honestly speaking I'm all worries," he says.

The film then cuts to show the well-honed and shirtless Ichihashi working up a sweat as he pumps iron in the training room, with the words "pressure" and "fear" crossing the screen.

Other videos show officers playing their roles in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden or on a low-altitude patrol flight over a densely populated area after an earthquake.

The favoured female candidate thus far, with three weeks left to go, is Leading Seaman Junko Matsudai, who flaunts her skills with signal flags and the bugle as she works the communications shift on her vessel.

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