Self Defense Meets Social Media: Japan's Army Takes To Twitter

Japan's army – officially the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force or JGSDF – is reaching out to the world through social media. Plan A in the internet charm offensive: set up the official JGSDF Twitter page.

Plan B would seem to be getting 100,000 or so people to follow you. As of today (March 24, 2011), the JGSDF's Twitter page lists 103,212 followers. Yet the JGSDF itself is following nobody... nada, zilch, zero. Hey, they're an ARMY, dammit – they LEAD, not follow!

Plan C would be, if the familiar 'net catchphrase is any indication, “profit”. That may not apply in this case, however, one of the first tweets the JGSDF sent out after setting up their account on March 21 was to apologize for their site crashing due to too much traffic.

The JGSDF isn't the first notable Japanese organization to step into social media. Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan opened his English language Twitter page on March 16. That was followed the next day by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) - operator of the distressed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant and many more like it.   

Japan's army is held in high regard within the country and they have achieved a high profile in humanitarian endeavors such as search & rescue and, most recently, assisting in recovery efforts after the devastating Great Tohoku Kanto Earthquake.

Many of the JGSDF's early tweets have focused on the disaster and the army's role in the aftermath. They have also advised their followers that the JGSDF website features a photo gallery illustrating images and videos of JGSDF activities in the affected region of northeastern Japan. Umm, no photos like the one at right, mind you - that's just me indulging in a little gratuitous frivolity.

Though the army's efforts in the post-earthquake / tsunami zone have been well-publicized in print, TV and online media, the JGSDF's Twitter page is an expression of their desire to be more proactive regarding their media exposure, and to exert more control over their message via self-managing the content. Japan's army may have come late to the social media table but they've obviously read the menu well. (via Asiajin)