Sayonara, Samurai


PLAYING DEFENSE: Japanese soldiers train in Kuwait in 2004

When Japanese Self-defense Forces (SDF) troops departed for Iraq in 2004, they carried with them the fears of a divided nation, the historical burden of Japan's wartime actions—and Prince Pickles. The Prince, one of the SDF's cartoon mascots, is a cutesy manga character with saucer eyes and an oversized helmet who is supposed to soften the image of the Japanese military. Although the Prince seems unfit for service in a war zone, he's probably a perfect symbol for the SDF, which by law cannot use force beyond the minimum needed to defend itself and the nation. Japanese soldiers can find themselves...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!