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Japan police posters try to arrest new applicants' attention with unique designs

The poster imitating current "Men in Black" promotional material is seen in this image provided by Aichi Prefectural Police.

NAGOYA -- Police forces across the country have started putting out unique recruitment posters in an attempt to stem the precipitous decline in applicants to the field, which is struggling in a graduate hiring environment currently seen as a seller's market.

The preconceived image of the police is generally one of a tough, scary and dangerous working environment, but the forces hope their new posters will appeal to top talent. Officials in charge of recruitment at the police forces said, "We want to let people know this is a job worth doing, and that it has its humorous side, too."

A Saga Prefectural Police recruitment poster designed to appeal to new applicants' parents with its look reminiscent of the popular police drama "Seibu Keisatsu" is seen in this image provided by Saga Prefectural Police.

According to the National Police Agency, the number of applicants taking the police recruitment test has been on a downward trend since fiscal 2010. In fiscal 2017, 85,531 people sat the exam, down by over 50,000 since fiscal 2010.

Along with a shortage of working people nationally, the improving economic situation has increased the popularity of applying to private firms. It's said that many potential applicants tend to avoid trying for police jobs due to its enduring image as a painstaking occupation. The creative, left-field posters have been popping up gradually in an attempt to dispel preconceptions that it as a tough, scary and dangerous place to work.

This spring, Aichi Prefectural Police released a poster based on the design for the latest "Men in Black" movie, in accordance with its makers. In the actual film poster, the actors can be seen carrying weapons, but in the Aichi police version they're wielding a traffic sign and a baton instead. The ad's slogan also adapts the movie's MIB initials into "Maji de Ima Boshuchu," or "Seriously, we're hiring now" in English. An official in charge of the campaign said, "I want people to see that this can be a fun place to work, with an understanding of humor."

A well-dressed thief leaves his calling card for potential new hires in this recruitment poster provided by Nara Prefectural Police. The thief's name "Aran" is a reversal of "Nara."

Nara Prefectural Police's recruitment poster features a masked well-dressed thief, who leaves new recruits with a calling card reading, "To all you young people who love Nara. You think you can catch me? I'm waiting to see what you're made of." Alongside it the copy from Nara police encourages new recruits to catch the well-dressed criminal, and says it is recruiting urgently.

Ibaraki Prefectural Police's poster has attracted attention for its idiosyncratically altered ukiyoe woodblock print look. With a design by popular visual artist Sanjushichi Segawa, it features a uniformed police officer about to tuck into the prefecture's famous produce "natto," a kind of sticky fermented soybean. The humorous copy reads, "We're hiring people with sticking power."

In the case of Osaka Prefectural Police, they're choosing to focus on treatment at work, a point of interest for many applicants. Headlines on the fashion magazine front cover styled poster read, "The employment benefits are really amazing," and "The job is satisfying, the pay is good, and both increase as you go." A representative at the Osaka police force said proudly, "Employee benefits are one of the police's strengths. We've managed to convey that well."

A ukiyoe woodblock print inspired recruitment poster featuring a uniformed policeman eating "natto" is seen in this image provided by Ibaraki Prefectural Police.

With the parents of new applicants often involved in the job hunting process, some police departments have chosen to aim their campaigns at the generations that precede their current targets. Saga Prefectural Police have devised a poster reminiscent of popular drama "Seibu Keisatsu," "Western Police" in English, which was originally broadcast from 1979 to 1984. Members of the force in various roles, including forensics specialists, police motorbike riders and police detectives stand against a fiery backdrop in the image.

But getting a lot of attention doesn't necessarily mean the posters will foster an increase in the number of applicants. Many recruitment officials who spoke with the Mainichi Shimbun said additional measures are required. These include setting up more internship programs and making aggressive recruitment efforts on the internet. They say they'll continue working diligently to help people appreciate the appeal that comes with serving as a police officer.

(Japanese original by Hitomi Takai, Nagoya News Center)

A fashion magazine style recruitment poster for potential police recruits in Osaka Prefecture is seen in this image provided by Osaka Prefectural Police.

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