Faced with an increasingly fraught security environment, Japan is set to beef up its military capabilities in the coming years. But its plans are being undermined by a perennial issue: recruitment.

Unable to hit its quotas since 2014, the Self-Defense Forces have resorted to a variety of tactics to increase their appeal to potential new recruits. These include pop culture-based advertising campaigns, improved living conditions for recruits and efforts to create a better work-life balance.

Nevertheless, the SDF faces an uphill battle as it struggles with Japan’s falling birthrate and increased competition with the private sector over a shrinking pool of applicants.