Japan’s patent office has blocked a company from making “pachinko” pinball machines named after Adolf Hitler, Moses and other historical figures, officials said today.
Fuji Shoji, based in Osaka, submitted the names of 34 well-known people, including the Wright Brothers and Tchaikovsky, for trademarks on their garish, upright pinball machines.
The Patent Office rejected the applications in May, Fuji said, but word of the decision was first publicised in Japan this week.
The office is barred from granting trademarks that may disrupt public order and morals, a patent official said. He refused to provide further details.
Kyodo News agency also quoted an unidentified official as saying that using the Nazi dictator’s name as a trademark could violate the spirit of Japan’s pacifist post-war constitution.
Nobuhide Tonaka, a spokesman for Fuji, said the names were chosen at random from the world’s “famous people” and that no offence was intended.
“But we failed to pay close consideration, and we regret that very much,” he said.
Brightly-lit pachinko parlours are everywhere in Japan, clustered around city train stations or along country roads.
The games often feature panels illustrated with scantily-clad female comic book characters or action heroes. Fuji has produced machines with motifs from the movie Ghostbusters and the TV series Thunderbirds.
General knowledge of the Holocaust is limited in Japan. A film distributor planned to display a watercolour painted by Hitler earlier this year to publicise a film about his life, but cancelled the exhibition after complaints from abroad.