Japanese civil servant fined for having tattoo
School clerk in Osaka first to fall foul of draconian revisions to city's code of ethics on skin art
A school clerk in Osaka has become the first victim of a crackdown against city employees getting a tattoo.
The local education authority confirmed today that it has fined the 23-year-old woman, who has not been named, a portion of her salary for one month, Kyodo News reported.
The education board was tipped off that the woman had been tattooed on her left arm and an ankle between late December 2012 and March last year, after the city's ethics code was revised in June 2012.
The crackdown on city employees was ordered by Toru Hashimoto, the controversial mayor of Japan's second city, after a municipal employee frightened a child after exposing an arm bearing a tattoo.
"If tattoos of city employees are seen by the public, the city government will lose its credibility because they will make people feel nervous and intimidated," Hashimoto said in a memo to all city staff.
The mayor refused to back down, despite union officials' complaints that the order was a breach of employees' human rights.
Osaka's 38,000 employees were required to fill in a form on which they had marked their tattoos on an outline of a human body. Any markings that are visible to the public, such as on the arms, legs, feet, face or neck, must be disclosed, although disclosing tattoos in places that are less likely to be seen is voluntary, city officials said.
Tattoos have long been the traditional symbol of Japan's "yakuza" underworld groups and the stigma that is attached to them has not been diluted by skin art becoming a fashion item among younger Japanese.
The school clerk punished by the city has said she will undergo surgery to have the tattoos removed, the board of education said.