Finally Dancing

The Japanese Diet has finally relaxed a law that has affected Japan’s local music industry for decades.

An entertainment business ordinance passed shortly after World War II prohibited dancing in nightclubs after midnight. The original reasoning behind the rule was to curb prostitution, as at the time the law was passed nightclubs were the main venue for prostitutes to meet customers. For the better part of the last five decades police did not enforce it regularly. But following the death of a student during a fight at an Osaka club in 2010, police started cracking down on clubs and fining them for staying open and allowing dancing, a move that dampened night life in Osaka and Tokyo considerably.

Some were even forced to close. The music industry has since lobbied heatedly against the law, and politicians have been slow to respond. But last week, lawmakers in the Upper House of Japan’s parliament voted to relax the law as part of a series of measures designed to create more business opportunity before the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The revision will not go into full effect until next summer, but it will permit dancing in licensed clubs after midnight. There are conditions, however.

Dancing is allowed only in clubs with at least 10 lux of lighting, which is about twilight illumination. The police have told local media that they will continue “monitoring” night clubs to make sure the proper lighting level is maintained.