Monday, April 14
Wrestler vows to wear 'mask' while in office


TOKYO -- Who is that masked man? One of Japan's newest politicians. A professional wrestler fought his way to victory in local assembly elections under his ring name and wearing his trademark mask, and has vowed the mask will not leave his face even after he enters the staid halls of Japanese politics.

"This is my face," the wrestler -- known as "The Great Sasuke" -- was quoted by the Nikkan Sports newspaper as saying of his black and white full-face mask with bright scarlet streaks and golden wings by the eye holes.

"I won support from voters with this face, and to take it off would be breaking promises," the 33-year-old wrestler, whose real name is Masanori Murakawa, said of his victory in conservative Iwate prefecture, some 290 miles north of Tokyo.

Catching opponents on the back foot to take one of 10 assembly seats, the wrestler said he now hopes to demonstrate his "superabundant power" outside of the ring as well as in it.

Sasuke's vow to go masked into the halls of power in Japan, where battles have been fought in the past over legislators refusing to don neckties, has authorities scratching their heads.

"There is no law specifically forbidding it," one Iwate area official was quoted by Nikkan Sports as saying. "But now that he has won, we must look into the issue."

In a sign, perhaps, that the rough-and-tumble world of politics may prove more bruising than expected, Sasuke was forced to limp his way up to the polling box with one ankle in a cast. He attributed the injury to stumbling over a curb during the election campaign.

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