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A Japanese city’s new ordinance that bars visitors to a beach near Yokosuka Naval Base from showing off large tattoos is not meant to target U.S. service members, a spokesman for U.S. Forces Japan told Military Times.
“It is important to note that restrictions about tattoos are not new in Japan, and they are not focused toward Americans in general,” said Air Force Lt. Col. David Honchul, a spokesman for U.S. Forces Japan.
The city of Zushi recently imposed a series or restrictions on beachgoers after a spike in complaints from local residents over the past few years, Stars and Stripes first reported Thursday. One restriction prevents beach visitors from displaying large or intimidating body tattoos, which are closely associated with Japanese organized crime.
Last year, Zushi restricted employees working at beach houses from displaying tattoos, Honchul said in a Friday email to Military Times.
“Throughout the country, many bath houses, spas and swimming pools have similar restrictions about exposed tattoos,” he said. “As such, it is not uncommon here for service members to look for information on places they are visiting to see if there are restrictions on exposed tattoos before visiting.”
U.S. sailors and service members who go to Zushi Beach are required to obey the ordinance and all other Japanese laws, Honchul said. Zushi has not yet developed specific guidelines for the new restrictions, so U.S. Forces Japan said it is premature to talk to local authorities about the ordinance.
The ordinance also bans beachgoers from playing loud music, barbecuing on the beach or drinking alcohol outside restaurants, Stars and Stripes reported.
The crackdown may be blocked, however, as local beach hut owners have taken legal action to get the ordinance suspended and eventually overturned because they feel the restrictions will hurt their business, according to Japanese media outlets.