Kobe eyes tattoo ban at Suma beach after marijuana case
The Kobe municipal government is considering banning people with tattoos from a beach in Suma Ward following the recent arrests of college students for alleged marijuana possession during a music event at the beach, city officials said.
The city office intends to come up with a concrete plan during this year, including establishing the rule by ordinance, but banning tattooed people from a public beach is a rare case in Japan as most tattoo bans are for commercial facilities such as saunas. The envisaged ban may prompt controversy over its possible violation of the freedom of expression as tattoos are becoming increasingly fashionable with young people, critics say.
‘‘It is our duty to make a safer environment for the citizens,’’ said a city official as senior officials of the city and Hyogo prefectural police are set to form a special team to work out details such as ways to restrict entrance to the beach.
Suma beach saw the lowest number of visitors in 25 years this summer, with about 620,000 people in 46 days. Some citizens have told the city office that they ‘‘hesitate to go near the beach’’ amid an increase in young people with tattoos, the officials said.
The city enforced an ordinance with a penalty in 2008 that forbids loud noise on the beach during nighttime, yet about 70 music events were held this summer.
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