Yokosuka, Japan (CNN)The first time 22-year-old Akiko Hirayama stepped on board a navy ship, she was transfixed by the hardware.
“I was so amazed by all the torpedoes and missiles on the ship and its labyrinthine layout,” said Hirayama. “I’d never seen anything like that before.”
Hirayama, a former airport security guard now aged 23, had swung by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) public festival out of curiosity. Six months later, devastating floods submerged her hometown in Okayama prefecture in western Japan. Moved by how Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) helped her family and friends during the relief operations, Hirayama decided to join up.