Okay... so... a team of welfare workers in the city of Odawara (Kanagawa-ken) wore a jacket that was later deemed to be offensive... apologize and move on, right?
But this offensive jacket was worn by the city government's welfare group for YEARS... a decade, actually
The jacket contained a badge on the front - that's it above... and despite how it reads in English - that's not the offensive part....
It's the welfare department's slogan on the back that was offensive enough that the city's mayor Kato Kenichi (surname first) publicly apologized for it on January 17, 2017.
First worn by some workers in 2007 against welfare cheats - though that's NOT the reason it was created - it was finally banned by the Odawara on January 16, 2017.
After a violent incident where three welfare workers were hurt (not too seriously) after a man attacked them with a box cutter and a cane after his benefits stopped, the welfare workers came up with the idea for a jacket to show their solidarity.
Before the jackets were made, the workers decided to up the ante and make it more about sending a message to those who would cheat on the welfare programs... hence the messaging.
The jackets were designed and made and then paid for by the welfare workers out of their own money, meaning no city monies were supplied.
At the time of the story coming to light, a total of 28 city workers owned a jacket - but not every one wore one when performing their duties.
So what did it say on the back of the jacket?
Let's start at the front and work our way backwards:
Well... in reference to SHAT - the Seikatsu Hogo Akuobokumetsusuru Team (yes, 'team' was written in English)... the team name essentially means "Team to Eradicate Evil".
Evil? Holy crap... they were just welfare cheats, not killing babies by dismembering them with chainsaws and then feeding them to their unsuspecting families!
The emblem at the top reads “Hogo Namenna” - which means "Don’t take welfare like a fool".
I pity the fool.
You'll notice that there is a large X atop the kanji symbol? The kanji means "evil"... so X-out evil... and "Eradication" is written below the X-ed out kanji.
The EST-2007 - that's Established in 2007... that EST. (year) thing is something one always finds on Japanese designed jackets or articles of clothing that use nonsensical Japlish... so it's not surprising to see it here on this 2007 jacket.
I still don't know how a 10-year-old jacket will fit a civic worker... but I can only assume none of them got fatter or worked out in the past decade.
So... as shocking as the front was to see that these Odawara welfare workers were to eradicate evil in all its forms of welfare cheating, the best/worst is yet to come.
The message on the back says: “We are “the justice” and must be justice, so we have to work for odawara. Finding injustice of them, we chase them and Punish injustice to accomplish the proper execution. If they try to deceive us for gaining a profit by injustice, “WE DARE TO SAY, THEY ARE DREGS!” "
“It was an inappropriate expression that lacked regard for others. I am sorry and offer apologies to city residents,” Kato apologized in a statement.
The whole kerfuffle was brought to steam by the media, who asked city officials about the offensive jackets... which was news to them... so after a quick investigation, the city acted.
By the way... along with the fact that the word "odawara" was written with a lowercase "o", it has come to light that these welfare workers - some of them - wore the jackets when they visited welfare recipient homes.
Hmmm... I can only assume that the message on the back of the jacket was written in English meaning no one understood it... which would also account for the crappy English submitted by the media for the message.
It could explain why no one saw fit to report the disgraceful (or is it 'regrettable') message - because no one understood the English.
Punishment was doled out in neo-typical Japanese fashion. In the old days, there would be a ritualistic suicide.
The city government disciplined the head of the welfare and health department who oversees the section, as well as six other officials in the department - by giving them a stern warning.
Vice-mayor Kabe Yasuhiko (surname first) will give up 10 percent of his monthly salary for one month, because he apparently should have known what was going on underneath him.
Wow... the Vice Mayor is getting a beating here... What about the Mayor? He should forgot a part of his salary, too!
But no... the mayor was punished enough (apparently) by having to issue the public apology for what was going on underneath him.
Apparently having to apologize is a worse punishment than having to give up one's salary.
And the trouble makers... or rather the welfare office head and six other officials... they just got a strong warning?! Konoyaro... you... you... guy, you!
I wonder if the city workers are unionized?
Anyhow... if you look at the message on the back of the jacket again... the welfare office of Odawara is not saying anything nasty against people on welfare... rather they are showing they won't put up with people who attempt to cheat the welfare system.
I agree with that philosophy, but I certainly don't think they need to wear slogans all over their clothing that no one understands except those who understand English... and even then...
Still... you have to commend them on their use of the word "dregs"... while I would understand it to mean the "scum of the Earth", they used "dregs", which translates to "residue" or "the least wanted portion."
It sounds rough, but given how I described it, it was classier.
Anyhow... you really have to applaud these guys for really caring about their job. They really did/do!
But decorum, people... decorum.