A Ground Self-Defense Force base ceased to use a mascot -- a redesign of a local sunflower character -- in February after deciding the gun-toting flower might put off some people outside of the GSDF.
A spokesman of the GSDF Camp Zama in Kanagawa Prefecture said Tuesday it initially thought the addition of the gun would pose no problem because it is part of the ordinary equipment for the GSDF, but eventually accepted the public's "mixed reception."
The ditched design shows "Zamarin," a sunflower character used by the Zama city government as its official mascot, wearing camouflage and holding an assault rifle.
The camp printed some 1,500 envelopes bearing the armed character, and started using them in mid-February to distribute brochures to camp visitors.
However, it stopped using them in late February after receiving an inquiry whether the camp had obtained an approval from the municipal government to use the new design. The camp earlier created a Zamarin wearing camouflage and obtained the city's approval to use it.
The inquiry discovered that this time the camp had neglected to get the necessary approval.
"We should have confirmed whether an approval was obtained before starting to use the envelopes. We will consult the city about whether we should seek its approval for using (the new design)," the spokesman said.
Zama, which regards the sunflower as its emblematic flower, created Zamarin in 2011 in a marketing campaign, a tactic used by thousands of Japanese municipalities.
The GSDF Camp Zama straddles the cities of Zama and Sagamihara, southwest of Tokyo.