The Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that said the Osaka city office's 2012 probe into whether its workers had tattoos was legal, court officials said last week.

In a decision dated Wednesday, the court's five-member Second Petty Bench rejected an appeal from the plaintiffs after the Osaka High Court last year overturned district court decisions in favor of the two employees. The workers had refused to comply with the city's investigation.

At issue was the city's move in May 2012, under the leadership of then-Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, to inquire if 33,000 employees had tattoos. The city required them to reply in writing whether they had any tattoos on visible parts of the body, including the hands and neck. They were also asked to answer on a voluntary basis whether they had tattoos elsewhere.