KOBE (Kyodo) The Kobe Municipal Government may ban 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, municipal officials said.

The city intends to come up with a concrete plan this year, including establishing an ordinance, but banning tattooed people from a public beach is rare though not uncommon at commercial establishments, particularly bathing facilities.

Such a ban could start a controversy over the possible violation of freedom of expression because tattoos are becoming increasingly fashionable with young people, critics say.

The beach had its lowest number of visitors in 25 years this summer, with about 620,000 people in 46 days. Some people have told the municipal office they “hesitate to go near the beach” amid an increase in young people with tattoos, according to officials.

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