Sunday, 5 August 2012

Conservative Osaka Mayor Irked by Ink: Confess or Quit!

Japanese Mayor Issues Mandatory Tattoo Survey


Toru Hashimoto, Japan's Mayor of Osaka declared war on body-art-loving public sector employees, including teachers. Hashimoto's battlecry is simple, yet strong one:
"Confess or Quit!"

Full-Scale Ink Crack-Down

The politically ambitious 43-year-old Hashimoto recently issued a mandatory poll on Osaka's 32 thousand public sector employees. So far, only a few employees disclosed what's under their clothing. Of 113 employess fessing up to owning some colorful ink, 10 are teachers (one an elementary school teacher).
In Japan, tattoos are considered unacceptable in several quarters. Citizens wearing body art are banned from public bathrooms, gyms, major businesses, sports clubs, etc.. Large areas of ink have always been associated with gangs and organized crime (especially the Yakuza organized crime syndicates), and the mayor wants to clean up the metropolis' image.

Mayor Claims TattoosScare Residents

Mayor Hashimoto's mandatory survey issued several personal commands to public servants. One question demanded a list of tattoos from head-to-toe, with another form inquiring about the diameter of the ink as well as where it could be found on the body. Public workers are also required to disclose if they have tattoos that are normally covered by clothing. And Hashimoto also wanted details on when they got their ink — was it before or after gaining employment with the city?
"Citizens feel uneasy or intimidated if they see tattoos (on workers) in services, and it undermines trust in the city," Hashimoto has stated. "We need to grasp what the (tattoo) situation is and reposition personnel."

Employees Ask Where Personal Liberties Lay

Some public sector employees have been asking if this isn't a gross violation of privacy. Mayor Hashimoto doesn't believe so. But social media outlets like Twitter have seen a flurry of comments discussing Osaka's tattoo crack-down. As one man tweeted:
"Mayor Hashimoto's attack on tattoos seems fascist. Should we really be judging people based on their haircolor, fake eyelashes, color contacts, and clothes?"
Young people in Japanregard tattoos as beautiful artwork and self-expression, and ink is quite fashionable and accepted in Japanese pop culture. It's not unusual to see young men and women proudly sporting colorful butterflies on their back shoulder or a playful dolphin displayed by one one's foot.

Statistics are Filtering in...Then What?

According to Osaka's mayor, public servants won't be expelled on account of their tattoos, but will be demoted in some instances. Furthermore, the mayor indicated many employess with permanent body art would also be removed from customer service positions, and placed in employment 'behind the scenes.'
Teachers appear to be receiving the harshest ultimatum following poll results. Hashimoto says no one will be fired, but teachers with ink visible to students must get it removed.

After teaching English in Japan, Peter Wendt was a little uneasy about having tattoos during his tenure there. Upon returning to sunny CA, Peter moved to Austin, TX and had all of his tattoos removed at The MEDermis Laser Clinic so he could turn over a new leaf. Peter is an avid blogger and still interested in body art.

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