Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who launched a crusade to eradicate tattoos from the public sector last week, has announced plans to prevent the promotion and advancement of any city employee who declined to respond to a survey asking them if they have tattoos.
"Citizens feel uneasy or intimidated if they see tattoos (on workers) in services and it undermines trust in the city," Hashimoto has said.
Although small tattoos are now a common means of self-expression in Japan and are no longer indicative of gang membership, the right-wing Hashimoto initiated a survey in Osaka that asked employees of the city government to provide information about visible and concealed tattoos, such as how long they had had them. He has also threatened to dismiss any city worker who has tattoos, Fuji TV reports.
The poll found that 110 workers reported having tattoos, including sea turtles, moons and dolphins. It has been reported that many of the respondents work in public transport and the city waste disposal departments. The government is considering whether to ask public servants with tattoos to find other employment, Fuji reported.
"We need to have possession of this information. Anyone who doesn't respond to the survey should be reported to HR and passed over for future promotion. This all goes without saying," Hashimoto told a news conference, according to Jiji Press.
So far, 513 employees have declined to respond to the survey which was given to about 33,000 workers. Hashimoto says they will be pressed again to give the information before disciplinary steps are taken. "If they insist on having tattoos, they had better leave the city office and go and work in the private sector," he said Tuesday after the results of the survey were released.
Around 800 teachers and other education professionals have so far refused to respond to Hashimoto's survey, in the belief that it infringes on their right to privacy. A Kansai-based lawyers' group has also reportedly asked the city to cease the investigation, which it claims violates workers' human rights, Fuji TV reported.
Hashimoto reportedly became infuriated earlier this year after learning that a worker at a children's home threatened kids by showing them his tattoos.
Education professionals were to be included in the "investigation" from Wednesday, but the city's Board of Education has put off the start date and requested that head teachers' opinions be heard first.
During Hashimoto's mayoral campaign, weekly tabloids in Japan claimed that his father and uncle, now deceased, were both gangsters, although it was not reported whether they were tattooed. Nikkan Gendai also reported that a cousin of Hashimoto is in prison for manslaughter. Hashimoto has publicly commented on the stories and has not denied them.© Japan Today