Not far from where I live is a kind of amusement park where you can play soldier. It has a lot of chain-link fences and gray structures that look like bombed-out buildings. On weekends, men, and sometimes women, dressed in camouflage and armed with replica air rifles, re-enact the kind of military operations they see in Hollywood movies. The facility has its own showers and locker rooms, as well as an area for post-combat barbecues. Large groups rent it out for full days.

Such recreational facilities are not exclusive to Japan, but it’s interesting to ponder the appeal of war games to a citizenry raised on the sanctity of pacifism. Lately, there has been much discussion about whether or not Japan should rewrite its Constitution, which renounces war-making capabilities, and become a “normal country” with a full-fledged military that can do all the things other normal countries’ militaries do, like go abroad and kill in the name of whatever cause it deems important.

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