Something different is happening in Japan. The military is sexy again. Amid a tense atmosphere of territorial conflict with most of its neighbors, and at a time when seemingly every Asian country is beefing up its armed forces, Japan’s military is enjoying a noticeable increase in popularity.Take, for example, “Mr. and Ms. JMSDF.” It’s an online contest, a search for the sexiest and most popular male and female members of the JMSDF (Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force). Check out the video above. The officer-contestants are filmed heroically scouting for pirates, protecting Japanese islands, working out, and on rescue operations to earthquake hit areas. Japanese citizens vote for their favorite; more than 123,000 already have. The whole thing seems to be a very successful public relations campaign by the JMSDF. “We’re hoping [young people] will look at this and think, ‘That’s something I’d like to do’,” a spokesman told Time.Or notice the huge number of people who applied to be spectators at a recent live-fire exercise by Japan’s ground forces. According to Rocket News, a blog that seems to report mostly on Asian pop culture, 110,000 civilians applied to watch the exercise, held on August 25 at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Rocket News attributes some of the increased attention to “Girls und Panzer,” an anime show where five ordinary-seeming schoolgirls participate in “the way of the tank,” depicted in the show as a traditional modern art, and compete in tank competitions with other schools. It’s all very traditional Japanese anime, except for the military aspect. Since its release last year the show has climbed to the top of Japan’s media charts. Tank figurines base on the show are apparently extremely popular.It seems that old taboos are ending in Japan. The military is becoming popular? China probably doesn’t think any of Japan’s sailors are particularly cute.But in Japan, very militaristic, muscular young men are exercising below the banner of the Rising Sun, attractive helicopter pilots are scanning the seas for intruding ships, schoolgirls are driving tanks in an anime show popular among young people… Mishima would approve.