Tattoos are taboo in Osaka City Hall


Inked-up employees relegated to back-room pen-pushing

Photo credit: Hugh Ashton

OSAKA (majirox news) — Some 110 admitted to having tattoos – many in prominent public locations, such as arms and legs where they are visible in everyday life — in a survey of 34,000 employees in Osaka.

Of the 110 such employees, the Environment Bureau accounted for more that half of those sporting tattoos (60), with other departments, including the Children and Youth Bureau, making up the numbers. The Environment Bureau is the Osaka municipal service with responsibility for the collection and disposal of refuse and garbage.

Even though the tattoos revealed by the survey are typically fashion statements, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has decided that those municipal workers with tattoos should be redeployed to positions where they do not interact with the public. One case which raised his hackles was in February, where a male worker displayed an arm tattoo to the children with who he was working.

Tattoos are a fashionable form of decoration in Japan for many young people, as they are in many Western countries, but there is a deeper and more sinister meaning associated with tattoos, which are often the mark of belonging to a yakuza gang. Many bathhouses and similar establishments will often refuse admission to those bearing tattoos, and the association with the underworld is certainly behind Hashimoto’s move.

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