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When a unit of the Ground Self-Defense Force was deployed to Japan’s westernmost island of Yonaguni for the first time six years ago, it felt like a boon to the remote community, which had long been suffering from a falling population and a weak economy.

The arrival of the troops, many together with their families, has invigorated the sleepy island in many ways: They brought more children to schools, while bars and restaurants boomed and local festivals leaped back to life with more participants.

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