Tattoo artists in Japan lobbied Tuesday for better legal protection of a profession that has long been associated with organized crime, seeking to end a decades-old prejudice as the nation braces for an influx of tourists and athletes sporting body art ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

While Japan seeks to attract 40 million tourists a year by 2020, the notion that tattoos are a symbol of the yakuza instead of a fashion statement still runs as deeply in society as it does in the underworld.

At the heart of Tuesday's campaign was 29-year-old Taiki Masuda, an Osaka-based tattoo artist who is fighting what is expected to become a drawn-out court battle over the legality of what he does for a living.