In a story that has been making the rounds lately, professional wrestler/promoter Skull Reaper A-Ji won election to the City Assembly in Oita, in southern Japan last month. Skull, we'll call him, who has operated and wrestled for the smaller indie promotion Freelance Team Oita since 2004, won on a platform of education reform and improved social welfare facilities.
In America, it's fairly big news when a professional wrestling personality wins public office, becuase let's be honest, how often does it happen? In Japan, it's not nearly as shocking. Even wrestlers still actively performing, like Skull Reaper A-Ji, have been elected to office in Japan, and higher up the ladder than City Assembly.
Hell, Skull Reaper A-Ji isn’t even the first masked Japanese politician elected at the local level. Masanori Murakawa, otherwise known as "The Great Sasuke", was elected councilor back in 2003.
In an interview with Nishinippon Shimbun, Skull Reaper disagreed, calling the decision frustrating and claiming the mask made it easier for his constituents to approach him. “People find it easy to come up and talk to me because I have a mask on. If I take my mask off, I’m an entirely different person,” he said.
Exactly. The second picture in this column is one of the campaign posters Reaper used. Seems to me like the people of Oita decided the guy with the mask was the best one for the job. I mean, he campaigned with the mask on. He made appearances with the mask, obviously. I wonder if he debated during the race. I'm not much of a gambler, but I'm pretty willing to bet that a Japanese political debate featuring a masked wrestler would be awesome viewing after spending an hour with the clock set to 4:20.
Wearing a similar mask to Skull Reaper A-Ji, Murakawa faced much the same criticism, saying at the time he had "absolutely no intention of taking it off, no matter how much opposition there is."
Right on, and Reaper needs to take the same stance, or start dishing out inziguri kicks. Either way, this is a hell of a lot more entertaining than anything going on in our government as present. (T.K.)