Being a soldier in Japan after World War II was seen as a job for failed police recruits and unemployed youths from depressed rural towns.

But as tension with China chips away at Japan's postwar pacifism, the military is regaining its prestige — helped by a blitz of television dramas, movies and cartoons.

Patriotic zeal is now a more compelling reason to enlist. A decade ago, around 1 in 10 candidates said they wanted to be a soldier for love of country. These days it's closer to 1 in 3, according to recruitment data obtained by Reuters.