politics

Osaka court rules tattoo check on city employees illegal

40 Comments

The Osaka District Court has ruled that Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s order to check whether municipal office workers had tattoos was illegal and constituted an invasion of privacy.

The court handed down the ruling on Wednesday in a damages suit filed by a 56-year-old city bus driver, Tadasu Yasuda, who was transferred to a desk job after he refused to answer questions on whether or not he had a tattoo, Sankei Shimbun reported Thursday. Presiding Judge Kenji Nakagaito invalidated the transfer and ordered the Osaka municipal government to pay Yasuda 1.1 million yen in damages.

The judge said ordering employees to reveal if they have tattoos or not encroached on individuals' privacy and carried a risk of creating workplace discrimination. The court also ruled that the plaintiff should be reinstated to his previous position as a bus driver.

The tattoo check, which was requested by Hashimoto in May 2012, involved 35,000 city employees who were asked to reply in writing. Of those who answered, 114 said they did have tattoos on their arms or legs, while six refused to disclose whether they had any tattoos or not, Sankei reported. Those six, including Yasuda, were subjected to disciplinary action. Yasuda said later that he did not have a tattoo, but refused to cooperate with the investigation because he felt it was an invasion of his privacy.

When he launched his anti-tattoo campaign, Hashimoto said at the time that “citizens feel uneasy or intimidated if they see tattoos (on workers) in services and it undermines trust in the city.”

Although small tattoos are now a common means of self-expression in Japan and are no longer indicative of gang membership, Hashimoto threatened to dismiss any city worker who has tattoos. "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 said.

Japanese media reported that Hashimoto first brought up the issue after learning that a worker at a children's home threatened kids by showing them his tattoos.

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40 Comments
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Take that, Toru. Can't have everything your own way

24 ( +28 / -4 )

Yeah a victory for common sense and real human rights, no bodies business who has tattoos.

19 ( +26 / -7 )

Good!

15 ( +17 / -2 )

thank goodness there is at least some reasonable people in power here....

16 ( +18 / -2 )

The judge said ordering employees to reveal if they have tattoos or not encroached on individuals’ privacy and carried a risk of creating workplace discrimination.

When he launched his anti-tattoo campaign, Hashimoto said at the time that “citizens feel uneasy or intimidated if they see tattoos (on workers) in services and it undermines trust in the city.”

Hashimoto threatened to dismiss any city worker who has tattoos. “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 said.

Now, what is Hashimoto's background in... um, let me see:

He graduated from Waseda in the spring of 1994 and passed the bar examination later that year, becoming a lawyer in 1996. In 1998, he established the Hashimoto Law Office, where he built up a practice in corporate law, entertainment law and dispute resolution.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C5%8Dru_Hashimoto

May want to advise anyone who is thinking of sending their kids to Waseda Law School to NOT.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Someone should now turn around and sue Mr. Hashimoto as a civil or private action for the waste of public funds incurred by trying to defend the illegality of this ludicrous statute before the courts. It’s not as though the appellant benches in Japan don’t have better things to do.

Sure, it is widely-accepted that populist rabble-rousers such as Hashimoto and Ishihara are disdainful of individual freedoms, however, as a qualified ambulance chaser Toru should know better. Like so many other politicians in Japan, Hashimoto needs to get his snout out of the trough of public largesse and occasionally smell reality.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Personally I don't like tattoo's. While some designs look absolutely hideous, and people that just cover themselves with them, also look hideous and disgusting, I feel that a person shouldn't be disciplined or reassigned because they have one. That said, I think Mr. Hashimoto overstepped his authority. Maybe next time he'll give more logical thought into his actions.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

Sometimes common sense does still prevail!

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Mr. Perfect - Alot of crappy leaders come out of good schools, being a little unfair, don't you think?

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Quite an invasion of privacy. Maybe I'm ok if you ask me if I have any Gang tattoos.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Freedom wins.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Tokiyo Dec. 18, 2014 - 02:24PM JST

being a little unfair, don't you think?

Not if he graduated from their law school, don't ya think?

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Now Mr Hashimoto should be held down and have 'Loser' tattooed on his forehead.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Now lets see that law overturned about tattoos and Zushi beach, isn't that law a breach of human rights too?

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Osaka court rules tattoo check on city employees illegal

And rightly so. A ban on hiring new employees with them is also not good, but especially silly when penalties imposed on existing employees.

Japanese media reported that Hashimoto first brought up the issue after learning that a worker at a children’s home threatened kids by showing them his tattoos.

Then the worker should have been sacked. Tattoos were incidental.

Have to disagree with this policy Mr. Hashimoto.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

ReformedBasher: For once we agree completely. And I'm glad to see the court agreed with common sense on this one.

I just wonder what kind of hissy fit Hashimoto is going to have and whom he's going to threaten over not getting his way.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Sometimes the Japanese courts do the right thing.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

@Article

Japanese media reported that Hashimoto first brought up the issue after learning that a worker at a children’s home threatened kids by showing them his tattoos.

I must wonder what happened there. Perhaps the worker decided to exploit the ingrained fear of tattoos to bring a little discipline to rowdy kids (in a similar way parents use threats of Santa Claus), and Hashimoto took irrational offense?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Finally some sanity, this guy is an idiot.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

I'm going to threaten my kids with moving to Osaka under Toru Hashimoto. This country is six years away from the Summer Olympics. We are going to see so much 'skin ink' on display that it will look like it is raining クレパス pastels and jittery Toru won't know where to look - and that is only just the Australian tourists. This dill is a new Ishihara in the making.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Ha ha! It seems Judge Dread has been overruled by the real courts! Too many of these old cronies think they are the law and can spout whatever rubbish they see fit. I'm glad this goon was cut down. Now, every member of the local councils needs to approach the courts to get compensated for the breech of human rights.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

A very good decision by the court.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Yup, good decision by the courts indeed.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

People with tattoos are usually not allowed into hot spas, since people find them intimidating. Atypically, there was a gentleman ("of honour" I presume judging by the type) with tattoos in the hot spa that I visited this morning and my colleagues found his presence intimidating, avoiding the bath in which he was bathing out of fear of arousing his anger.

If disallowing tattooed people from public spas is permissible for this reason, then preventing public employees from getting new tattoos (note that the 114 that fessed up to having tattoos already did not face disciplinary action) does not seem unreasonable. And it is reassuring to see a politician taking a hard line on such issues, especially in that city.

It is prejudicial, but at the same time, it is difficult to think of a better solution in a society were "violent groups" are legal. Some folks may think that they are still in Kansas.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

@ StormR Yes. Hopefully common sense will prevail and Hirai's dictatorial whims in Zushi will be ruled illegal and the Beach House Association win their ongoing court case against him.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A step in the right direction Osaka!!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Judge Kenji Nakagaito is a hero! The case may be obvious, but still he stuck his neck out.

Tadasu Yasuda is double the hero! It took guts to refuse as much as refusing was the right thing to do. And then he took the bastards to court on top of that!

Hashimoto should be in jail as his act was criminal! At the very least he should be thrown out of office, bodily in fact.

But you all just wait for the appeal. This is Japan, and the lower courts so often make rational, sensible decisions only to have them overturned by career creep judges who side with politicians to further their careers. And they should be in jail too!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

This guarantees that he will not be elected next t. How about women employees? They had to show breast? Check if Hashimoto si a pervert.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"The court handed down the ruling on Wednesday in a damages suit filed by a 56-year-old city bus driver, Tadasu Yasuda, who was transferred to a desk job after he refused to answer questions on whether or not he had a tattoo, Sankei Shimbun reported Thursday. Presiding Judge Kenji Nakagaito invalidated the transfer and ordered the Osaka municipal government to pay Yasuda 1.1 million yen in damages."

I'm glad Yasuda got the 1.1 million yen, but I want that jerk Hashimoto to pay it, not the taxpayers.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

My job made me sign a second sperate and supposedly legal contract that said if any students found out about my tattoos I would be fired on the spot. I wish I could sue them for being so arrogantly stupid. I am already looking to take my masters degree and decade of experience somewhere else.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Discrete and private, tattoos are fine. But on the neck, full sleeves, calves - you gotta believe that there will be a great deal of regret 20 years down the line when the fuller more elaborate tatts look like nothing so much as a large bruise.

As a person of a certain age, it's nearly impossible to take seriously the more heavily inked. If I were an employer, I'd never hire them. Too bad the courts over-turned this.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Good to know that Hashimoto's logic is not the norm by even Japanese judicial standards.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This case is far more complicated because what is behind it is city's concession of Buraku Kaiho Domei (部落解放同盟) and connection to yakuzas. The corruption of Osaka politics is dark and deep and was a big taboo until very recently. While I don't agree with everything Hashy does, his courage is admirable.

Many Japanese people still assiciate irezumi (not a generic term "tatto" here, precisely) with outlaws and yakuzas—It wasn't the case in Edo era but in Meiji, with Western influence, the government penalized tattoos on non-criminal citizens as far as I remember.

It would be nice if having a irezumi of your yakuza family on your forehead to represent your true commitment and loyalty becomes a new trend. I've seen many Mexican gangsters with theirs like "MS-!#" and what not. Then we will know who we can share a hot tub with.

On a side note, when I was a student, I worked in a catering company who dealt a lot of events with a local Jewish community. Any workers were requested to cover their tattoos regardless of their size and design. The company explained that some elder guests feel disturbed and offended by a tattoo because it would remind them of, you know. So my co-worker was covering her Irish clover with foundation.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Womwn do not have to show their breast area now,

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

"You gotta believe that there will be a great deal of regret 20 years down the line when the fuller more elaborate tatts look like nothing so much as a large bruise."

Yes, a large bruise on people who are 60~80 years old at the moment who received tattoos whilst in a regiment/the first wave of tattoo machines built. Technology and ink creation has come a long way, so I'm sure that the large proportion of the western population that has tattoos now won't suffer so much from the bruised look of outdated tattoos. And even if it were, who are you to say that they will regret them?

Also, with that mentality, I'm sure a person like you will have a very hard time hiring someone. Content of character and intelligence does not end at the skin. What an ignorant and closed minded view you have. I pity you. Good thing you're not an employer.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

So Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto should be held financially accountable personally for all costs and the compensation payable to 56-year-old city bus driver, Tadasu Yasuda, not the hard pressed tax payers.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"I am already looking to take my masters degree and decade of experience somewhere else."

With all due respect, Rob, there is nowhere else -- we are here and here we are.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tattoos was illegal and constituted an invasion of privacy.

Damm right!! Excellent verdict.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good job! This guy is not fit to be a Mayor, an absolute idiot. And isn't it pathetic to say tattoos make people uneasy and are intimidating. I mean REALLY, you feel intimidated sitting is a spa next to one that has a tattoo? or working out in the gym next to someone that has a tattoo.??????? Get a LIFE! And get rid of this guy Hashimoto. Next allow tattoos in Gyms and Onsen. This is 2014 get on with it!!!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@skookella

You probably don't understand Japan's tatoo culture at all. A casual, fashion tattoo (sharmlock, anchor and such) is still a new trend in Japan among small, selected people. Majority of Japanese people immediately think of outlaws and yakuza members when they hear a word, "irezumi (=Japanese Tatto.)"

It is a common story when you are in a public bath, an indivisual with tattoos on his body comes sit next to you and you'd be freightened or you go out and spend a romantic night with a lady only to find tattoos on her body (=yakuza's girlfriend.) Such episodes can be found in both classic literature and modern mangas.

Sure, it is a changing phenomina with newer generations enjoying small fashion tattoos (and they don't call them irezumi, they are just tattoos) but for most Japanese, irezumi=yakuzas.

Judging other people's percenption by your moral measurement without knowing their historical/cultural background is disrespectful.

I am sure you feel completely comfortable around yakuza tattoos in a public bath, and that kinda braveness, I do admire.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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