Today Was A Big Victory For Japanese Tattooing

Today Was A Big Victory For Japanese Tattooing

Last spring, the Osaka High Court ruled that tattooer Taiki Masuda broke the law by tattooing without a medical licence. This week, the court issued a ruling on his appeal.

Osaka Court's Ruling Helps Destroy Tattoos In Japan

Today in Osaka, a District Court ruled that tattooer Taiki Masuda broke the law by tattooing without a medical licence.

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According to Asahi, the Osaka High Court ruled in Masuda’s favour, overturning the previous guilty verdict.

Masuda’s lawyers argued that his intention wasn’t a medical procedure, but instead, creating art. This is why a doctor’s licence was not necessary and requiring one infringed on his Constitutional rights.

Jiji Press reports that the presiding judge agreed that tattooing symbolic and artistic meaning and, thus, was not intended as a medical procedure.

ImageSave Tattooing” loading=”lazy” > Photo: Save Tattooing

In 2015, police raided Masuda’s studio, telling him to pay a fine. As I wrote in my book Japanese Tattoos: History * Culture * Design, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare classified tattooing as a medical procedure in 2001 because a needle pierces the skin and inserts ink.

The government, however, does not issue tattoo licenses. This classification has long put tattooing into a legal grey zone. As I previously wrote, legal ambiguity isn’t new to tattooing in Japan.

The practice had been previously banned in the late 19th century, but in the years after World War II, tattooing was legalised in Japan. Yet, crackdowns continued and many tattooers worked out of the public eye.

This latest ruling, however, is bound to be a landmark case for an art form that has long been criminalized for centuries. Hopefully, this will help lead to greater understanding in Japan for what tattooers do and what tattooing means.

ImageSave Tattooing)” loading=”lazy” > Here Masuda holds the ruling, which reads “muzai” (無罪) or “innocent.” (Photo: Save Tattooing)


  • I’d say they really do need a licencing thing if only for health. even if it remains a stigma having some certification that doesn’t require a complete medical degree could save a lot of difficulties and maybe even lives.

    • I don’t know why some guy downvoted you but having regulation and licencing only helps the tattoo industry by knowing you are getting infected and you’re working with a trained professional.

      • probably someone who doesn’t care if they get HIV from a used needle. It’s a serious issue amd should be addressed. Thankyou though.

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