Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
The August 3 story “Search for work renders tattoos taboo” demonstrates the sticking power of this fetish in Japanese culture. It was recently fired up by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s outrageous silliness (“Osaka’s Hashimoto puts municipal workers’ tattoos into the limelight,”May 18, “Hashimoto: Answer tattoo survey or else,” May 23, and “Tattoo flap escalates as dissenters face penalty,” May 25.) When I read of the Mayor’s idea of surveying workers about their skin I figured, no problem, just answer in the negative. Lie. I read nothing in the press that workers actually had to be honest, on pain of punishment, in such a survey. Whether or not their jobs are at stake fallacious negative answers can be construed as charitable: charitably defending the Mayor from his own folly - the illegal human rights-violating direction of his own inquiry. Honesty is often over-rated, and false answers ought to satisfy very nicely Japanese culture’s disposition towards appearance over substance.
Now, Mayor Hashimoto is the son of a known yakuza. He is a confessed adulterer. He’s kind of a bad boy of Japanese politics. I think that before he goes any further with the silly tattoo thing he ought to produce a doctor’s certificate testifying that he himself has no body art. Because, you know, I would not be surprised at all to learn in years to come that all this time he is sporting Mickey Mouse on his tush.