The mayor of Osaka has ordered a ban on tattoos amongst city employees, with any found to have them to be either fired or forced to remove them, after the outrageous discovery that a public employee had a tattoo and that the city was not even able to sack him for it.
Osaka mayor and former prefectural governor Tooru Hashimoto has instructed the city bureaucracy to draw up rules banning public employees from having tattoos.
The decision was prompted by an incident in which a carer at a child-care facility showed his tattoo to young children there. He received a two month suspension, and was ordered only ever to wear long-sleeved shirts.
However, disgusted at finding that they could not sack him outright just for having a tattoo, the mayor has instead ordered new rules – “if we can’t sack them just for having tattoos, then at least we can make rules to force them to have them removed.”
The city does not currently ban employees from having tattoos, a state of affairs which outrages the mayor: “is there any profession apart from civil servant where regular employees can have tattoos?”
Mayor Hashimoto, a former lawyer and TV celebrity, has proven popular in right-wing circles for his efforts to curb the vast and heavily coddled civil service and mini-welfare state Osaka has built up for itself (most recently for his gleeful attacks on city bus-drivers whose $91,000 salaries were found to be $20,000 higher than those in the private sector).
However, his authoritarian tendencies have made him a hate figure on the left, with his obsession with forcing teachers to worship the national flag a particular sticking point – leftists denounce this as “Hashism” (pronounced and spelt similarly to “fascism” in Japanese), and after his 2011 remarks that “dictatorship is the most important thing in Japanese politics today,” it is not hard to see why.
Most of his actual policies revolve around curbing government expenditure and his pet project of trying to unify Osaka city with Osaka prefecture and make the resultant streamlined metropolitan government Japan’s sub-capital.
His other less salubrious reform proposals include legalising casinos and reinstating Osaka’s brothel district under government sponsorship – although paradoxically he is a big opponent of fictional sex, having called for manga censorship on the grounds that “freedom of expression is not an absolute.”
Tattoos have also proven to be a hot-button issue in neighbouring Kobe, which recently banned anyone with a tattoo from public beaches on the grounds that they scared decent people away – a policy which allegedly resulted in the lowest beach attendances ever.
Online, there is the usual lack of sympathy for the vile deviants who dare to ink their bodies and then expect to be able to work for a living:
“Keep at it! It makes no sense to have public employees who have tattoos!”
“Osaka civil servants can get away with anything, can’t they?”
“They should not be employing people with tattoos in the first place. That’s the real issue.”
“American soldiers and police often have tattoos. If Japan just copies America, it should be OK to have them?”
“Just about every US marine seems to have them.”
“They’re just told to get them so it is easier to identify their bodies.”
“That’s because they are democratic.”
“Stop quibbling. They are all like that.”
“The JSDF strictly prohibits tattoos.”
“Can’t he just fire them all?”
“What difference does it make if they erase them anyway…”
“Why would a public employee have a tattoo anyway?”
“There are lots of professions other than public servants where you see people with tattoos. You used to get them all the time with entertainment workers, construction labourers, taxi drivers and fishermen. Lately a lot of IT types get them too, and quite a few caregivers. You also see nurses with them. Source: me, who is a doctor.”
“Well, I don’t really see a problem if you aren’t flashing them at the pool or beach or something.”
“I know a civil servant who got herself inked with no problems.”
“The media reports suggest this whole incident was less about his tattoo and more about the suspicion he was intimidating a kid and sexually harassing a coworker.”
“According to those reports this guy was just acting like some yakuza…”
“I’m amazed Osaka employed someone with a tattoo. That city has too much freedom.”
“People with tattoos should not expect to get any sort of real job.”
“You can’t even get into Disneyland with a tattoo.”
“Why does Hashimoto alway respond so quickly to these odd little incidents…”
“Hashimoto haters will leap to protect any old thug, it seems.”
“So all city employees will be subjected to annual naked body searches now?”
“Does this guy really think nobody working in the private sector has tattoos?”
“I want to know why tattoos are NG but makeup is OK. If it really comes down to whether you can remove it, it’s a private matter which hardly matters at the workplace.”
“I don’t have one, but I don’t see what’s so wrong with tattoos.”
“All you American fools who think tattoos are cool, would you elect a president with a tattoo on his face?”
“Fire him. Public opinion supports it. Any fool with a tattoo should be fired.”
“Lots of people who have tattoos are AIDS carriers!”
“Stop employing yakuza, Osaka.”
“Next they should ban people from dyeing their hair.”
“As expected of the Japanese Johannesburg.”
“It’s shameful that these people should be employed by the government. They shouldn’t even be able to apply. Filth who choose the path of the outlaw should walk that path.”
“This is Japan! We don’t need to adopt foreign standards. In Japan, anyone with a tattoo is a hoodlum. They should not be working for the state. It doesn’t matter if they are good people, it’s bad!”
“If this is really discrimination, then so is stopping people with tattoos from entering public baths and gyms!”
“Hashimoto should know better, being from show business. The days when tattoos were just to intimidate people are gone, now they are a fashionable form of self expression. And this, coming from a lawyer who once shoced people with the fact he had dyed his hair? I understand the need for restraint, but a ban is going too far.”
“Whose side are you on!?”
“I’m on the side which thinks forcing people into conformity is suspect. And not just when it comes to tattoos…”
“You’re the suspect one!”
“No decent person would get a tattoo.”
“That is rather like saying ‘no decent person would post on 2ch,’ now isn’t it?”