Osaka’s mayor has once again been criticising the moral depravity of tattoos, this time warning Lady Gaga that she can forget about working as one of his binmen.
Speaking again about his hatred for tattoos and his desire to sack any Osaka employee with one, Osaka mayor Tooru Hashimoto was cheekily asked by a journalist what he thought of such stars as Lady Gaga and Johnny Depp wearing them as fashion statements:
“If Gaga or Depp wanted to work for Osaka, I’d refuse them. Maybe singers and actors can have them, but it’s unforgivable for a civil servant to have one. Although there’s no way Gaga would accept Osaka.”
Gaga’s tattoos, which could easily be confused with those of some yakuza chinpira and which would doubtless terrify the Japanese public:
When confronted with the prospect of his employees getting inked after starting work for the city, he was even more outraged:
“Why do they think they can do this? They ought to resign, and find some other place which will accept them expressing their individuality.”
He also pointed out that he stopped dyeing his hair brown after becoming mayor, non-black hair apparently also being unacceptable for a public employee of Osaka.
The mayor of Sendai city recently weighed in as well – although her views were the complete opposite of Hashimoto’s:
“I don’t think they are automatically bad. Overseas they are enjoying tattoos, so I think we need only consider this a cultural issue.”
She said she has no plans to investigate her employees for the presence of tattoos. Ishihara has not commented on the issue, but it is not hard to imagine how he feels about the matter.
Hashimoto has repeatedly vowed he will hound anyone with a tattoo out of public employment in Osaka, the only obstacle to this being the unfortunate existence of various legal limits on his power.
His latest step towards this goal was a survey of all 33,000 of Osaka’s employees – a grand total of 110 owned up to having tattoos, most of whom were involved in garbage collection.
He has said he intends to have them reassigned to work where no member of the public could possibly have to look at them.
The authoritarian character of Hashimoto’s rule has become increasingly apparent in recent months – his most recent new policy was establishing a system for allowing citizens to tip off the authorities about businesses which are too brightly lit, so his government can better badger or force them into saving electricity, a move immediately criticised as being a “gestapo” policy.
His long-standing obsession with forcing teachers to bow and scrape before nationalist insignia and his various remarks to the effect that Japan “needs dictatorship” have only strengthened this line of thinking.
Whilst he might otherwise be dismissed as merely an excessively outspoken independent mayor along the lines of Ishihara, there has been increasing speculation as to whether he is grooming himself for a third party entry into national politics, a prospect which has many of his opponents concerned.