Gov’t Plans to Ease Late-Night Restrictions on Japanese Dance Clubs

Get ready to (officially) kick off your Sunday shoes and get back to kicking it! Japan is planning to loosen strict laws that regulate entertainment establishments such as bars and Japanese dance clubs, once again allowing dancing until the wee hours.

A government committee on Monday unanimously agreed to ease draconian laws on all-night dancing and parties.

Under the current Law on Control and Improvement of Amusement Business or “fueiho,” which dates back to 1948, clubs are required to obtain licenses to allow their customers to dance. They also must have 66 square meters of unobstructed floor space and close by midnight or 1 am.

Since Japanese dance clubs offer food and alcohol in combination with dancing, they are placed in the same legal category as cabaret clubs, which has prompted heavy crackdowns on such establishments.

The strict enforcement of the law has led many to believe it could be used by authorities to clamp down on something as innocent as enjoying salsa or tango dancing.

Police said they have targeted many Japanese dance clubs on suspicion of underground activity such as drug dealing. However, it has always been easy to find places to dance around Tokyo, whether it’s permitted or not.

“The regulatory structure prescribed by the Entertainment Business Act is out of date,” committee chair Motoyuki Ota told reporters at a news conference. “Loosening the regulations will also help to spur economic activity.”

The committee noted that the concept behind dance clubs “is very far from that of entertainment business offering more intimate services along with food and drink,” and further recommended that dance clubs be treated legally as “late night drinking establishments” under the same law that regulates restaurants.

Relaxing rules on dance clubs is also aimed at attracting more foreign tourists ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, because there’s nothing like a rule against dancing to take a lot of the cool out of “Cool Japan.”

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: “Parade Of Awa Dance [高円寺阿波踊り]_10” by ajari/(Attribution 2.0 Generic [CC BY 2.0])/Flickr

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