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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 May, 2003, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Japan's masked politician
Japanese professional wrestler Masanori Murakawa
Masanori Murakawa is better known as 'The Great Sasuke'

A Japanese wrestler-turned-politician has insisted on wearing a brightly patterned mask - his trademark in the ring - for his new job as a local councillor.

Critics say it is "indecent" that Masanori Murakawa refuses to reveal his face.

But on Tuesday - his first day of work at the local assembly in Morioka, northern Japan - Mr Masanori's mask was resolutely on display.

Councillors are due to meet on Wednesday to decide whether he should be allowed to continue wearing his mask when the assembly formally convenes.

Masanori Murakawa was elected to the prefectural (state) assembly last month.

But he is better known in Japan as "The Great Sasuke", a wrestler with a penchant for covering his face with vinyl masks.

The change of career does not, apparently, signal a change in facial adornment.

"I have absolutely no intention of taking it off, no matter how much opposition there is," Mr Masanori said before taking his place in the council chamber.

But he did make some effort to placate his critics.

His latest mask revealed more of his face than previous creations - and one side featured a gold emblem of the region.

But it was evidently not enough of a compromise for some.

"Before you know it, prefectural civil servants will all be wearing masks too," said one council employee.

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