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
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."