Thursday, March 14, 2013

Japanese politician banned from wearing wrestling mask to council meetings

A politician elected in the southern Japan city of Oita in February has been banned from council meetings for refusing to take off his full-face wrestling mask.

Skull Reaper A-ji won just 2,828 votes in the election, campaigning on a platform demanding educational reform and improved social welfare facilities, but that was sufficient for him to take a seat in the city council. But even before he could attend his first meeting, other councillors suggested that it was inappropriate for a member of the assembly to wear a mask to conceal their identity.

But 44-year-old Skull Reaper A-ji resisted their requests that he remove his trademark item of clothing, a red-and-black leather mask. "People find it easy to come up and talk to me because I have a mask on," he said, adding that he has done a lot for the community for more than a decade, including visiting institutions for people with physical disabilities.

The chamber apparently declined to take his charitable work into consideration, however, and refused to allow Skull Reaper A-ji to take part in a meeting on Monday on the grounds that he was contravening a rule that states "a person taking the floor shall not wear items such as a hat." After being informed of the decision, Skull Reaper A-ji said it was "frustrating." "If I take my mask off, I'm an entirely different person," he said. "I will not take it off."

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