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Giant pink sea cucumber to ‘defend’ Japan’s territorial waters (PHOTOS)

Giant pink sea cucumber to ‘defend’ Japan’s territorial waters (PHOTOS)
Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force has appointed a new mascot to represent it and strike fear into the hearts of those who dare to enter Japanese territorial waters uninvited: a giant, pink sea cucumber.

Namakoro the sea cucumber will represent the de facto navy  which boasts 154 ships and 346 aircraft and consists of approximately 45,800 personnel.

The decision was made because “sea cucumbers don't run, don't hide, and have thick skin which is good for protection from enemies,” according to Mondo Mascots, a blog which posts updates on Japanese mascots.

Sea cucumbers don’t wear sailor suits or have cartoon-like features and can actually look mildly terrifying in certain circumstances.

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There are thousands of mascots across Japan from a guinea pig dressed as a deer, to a blue singer with a toilet for a head. The practice exploded in Japan about five years ago following the success of Hikonyan, the samurai cat mascot of a castle in Hikone, which hugely boosted tourism at the site.

“Every other town is having a go, small villages will make a really cheap mascot, like, they’ll cobble it together out of a cardboard box and some fabric and it’ll be based on a design from the local eight-year-old and they’ll have this shambolic mascot wandering around the town,” Chris Carlier, an Englishman living in Japan for the past 16 years and operator of the Mondo Mascots website, told VICE.

Mascot culture is a big deal in Japan, and is used to promote causes from health screenings, civic duty, shopping and sports teams. A ‘pear fairy’ was even appointed as the temporary chief of police in Chiba.

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