Japan city sorry for offensive welfare team jackets

An official holding up one of the jackets Image copyright Nippon TV
Image caption City officials displayed the jacket, with its possibly offensive acronym, at a press conference on Tuesday

A Japanese mayor has apologised after it emerged that staff at his city's welfare department owned jackets emblazoned with an offensive message about benefits cheats.

Featuring a crest on the front labelling the wearer part of an "eradication" team, the jackets also have a passage of broken-English text on the back which refers to chasing people to "punish injustice", The Asahi Shimbun reports. It ends with the sentence: "If they try to deceive us for gaining a profit by injustice, 'WE DARE TO SAY, THEY ARE DREGS!'"

The jacket's crest features the initials for the Seikatsu Hogo Akuobokumetsusuru Team (meaning "team to eradicate evil"), The Mainichi daily reports. It's not clear if it was intentional that the resulting acronym spells out an English swear word.

Employees paid for the jackets themselves and some wore them during visits to people's homes in the central city of Odawara, The Asahi Shimbun notes. It says the garments have been around since 2007 and are currently owned by 28 members of staff, but officials only noticed after being asked about it by local media.

Seven department officials were subsequently disciplined, and Mayor Kenichi Kato issued an apology to the city's residents, saying: "Whatever the reason might be, it was an inconsiderate and inappropriate expression."

City officials say the jackets were meant to boost morale after a 2007 incident in which a man attacked three welfare department employees after losing his benefits.

Image copyright Nippon TV News 24
Image caption The jackets have a rather muddled English passage emblazoned on the back

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