Last month, the Tokyo government obtained parliamentary approval to break the postwar taboo on sending Japanese troops abroad. It wanted the legislation passed in time for Japan to join the peacekeeping operation in Cambodia by this autumn, but was forced to make numerous concessions to the opposition, including a prohibition on Japanese soldiers searching for mines.
The curbs reflect the low status of the military in Japan, which has difficulty finding enough recruits. A former beauty queen, Yori Takayoshi, who is now an army lance-corporal, is being used in a television advertising campaign for military careers. 'We have two days off a week,' she tells viewers. 'We are looking for people who like peace.'