Tokyo’s late night dancing ban is in focus as the 2020 Olympics loom large

July 2014

Live events sector


Tengri News reports that Tokyo’s status as one of the world’s clubbing capitals looks set to survive a potentially ruinous police crackdown on — of all things – dancing – with clubbers at risk of being arrested for failing to obey “No Dancing” signs at venues – which are in place because of an “an antiquated law prohibiting dancing after midnight” which is “zealously enforced by police in recent years; After decades of turning a blind eye to the clubs, a police crackdown began following the 2010 death of a 22-year-old student after a fight in an Osaka club. Hit by a wave of raids, most of the city’s venues were shut down for licensing violations, pulling the plug on Osaka’s thriving dance scene. Other cities followed. Big-name DJ Takkyu Ishino had a set broken up in Fukuoka when police crashed in and shut down the party in 2012.

But with the 2020 Olympics on the horizon, Japanese lawmakers have decided the time has come to change the rules. A government committee last month agreed the Law on Control and Improvement of Amusement Business, introduced in 1948 to curb prostitution at dance halls, needed overhauling. The problem stems from classifications. Because nightclubs serve alcohol, they fall into the same legal category as cabaret bars, where customers pay to drink in the company of hostesses.”This law is unnecessary,” committee secretary general Tsukasa Akimoto, of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told AFP. “Why should dancing be illegal? Obviously the Olympics are a factor. It’s realistic to expect the law to be changed by the end of this year.” Adding that Tokyo prides itself as having one of the world’s most vibrant clubbing cultures yet for years the city’s famed nightspots have technically been operating illegally However, it seems that Japan’s National Police Agency remains stubbornly opposed. The original 1948 law was tightened in the 1980s after a teenage girl was murdered in Tokyo after being picked up at a disco. “The yakuza (Japanese organised crime syndicate members) aren’t really involved in the club scene — it doesn’t pay enough,” said Kimura. “Drugs are not a big problem in Japanese clubs. But what the police tell us constantly is they don’t want drunken club-goers fighting in the streets.”

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