Japanese Politician Banned From Meetings Because of Wrestling Mask

Skull Reaper A-ji won just 2,828 votes in the election, campaigning on a platform demanding educ...

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 similar to the "lucha libre" masks affected by wrestlers in Mexico.

"People find it easy to come up and talk to me because I have a mask on," he told the Nishinippon Shimbun, 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."

Interviewed 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 told the Nikkan Sports newspaper. "I will not take it off."

A number of politicians who choose to wear wrestling masks have been elected at the local level in Japan, including a councillor who goes by the name Super Delfin in Osaka and the former professional wrestler The Great Sasuke, who was elected to represent Iwate Prefecture in 2003.

Written by Julian Ryall (Tokyo)


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