From Japan Today, 2/1/14:
A 23-year-old woman who works as a school clerk in Osaka has been disciplined for having tattoos.
The woman had her salary cut for one month for violating ethical rules, the Osaka board of education said, NTV reported Friday.
According to the board, the woman got three tattoos from 2012 to 2013: one on her left arm and two on her left ankle. There was an anonymous call to the school complaining about the tattoos, which prompted the board to investigate the case.
NTV reported that the woman has agreed to have her tattoos removed.
This is the first time an Osaka government employee has been punished for having tattoos since Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto announced an anti-tattoo policy in June, 2012.
Hashimoto conducted a compulsory survey in which all employees of the city government were pressured to provide information about visible and concealed tattoos. Hashimoto said the local government would block the promotion and advancement of any city employee who declined to respond to the survey asking them if they have tattoos.
The survey was criticized by lawmakers and teachers throughout the prefecture, where about 800 teachers and other school workers refused to respond, saying it infringed on their right to privacy.
VAOJ has long been covering this tattoo controversy. I have had students who have done research on tattoos in contemporary Japan. The difference between yakuza and other (dare I say western influenced) tattoos is quite obvious. Tattoos for visual kei and other popular culture fans are becoming more common as well. One might wonder why Osaka mayor Hashimoto is so concerned about tattoos when there are other more pressing issues to consider... Personally I would not mark my body with ink. But I know many people who have done so with their tattoo having an extremely personal and important meaning. Should they really be socially punished?