In a move aimed at softening the public’s perception of Japan’s military hardware, the Ground Self-Defense Force has decided to give some of the weapons in its arsenal endearing nicknames.
Having chosen from the entries submitted by members of the public in a GSDF-sponsored naming contest, the GSDF said the model 1999 self-propelled 155-mm howitzer will now be known as the “long nose.”
Meanwhile, the GSDF’s standard 5.56-mm small arm will be referred to as “birdie.”
These are just two examples of the 33 nicknames chosen by the GSDF following a public contest launched on the GSDF’s official Web site in the fall.
While the GSDF already uses standard nicknames for some of its military hardware — the AH1 antitank helicopter is known by its maker as the Cobra — most GSDF weapons are known by their technical acronyms. The model 1987 self-propelled antiaircraft gun is, for example, the 87AW.
GSDF officials said the force received 1,360 suggestions during its nickname contest, some of which were reportedly thought to be too macho for the GSDF’s image.
According to the GSDF, one respondent suggested that Japan’s “model 90” battle tank be named “riku-o,” or “lord of the land.” The GSDF decided, however, to stick with the tank’s standard name, “kyu-maru,” or nine-zero.
“There was a large number of very interesting entries, but we can’t get too carried away,” a spokesman said.
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