Nonpartisan group of lawmakers seeks to ease nightclub regulations

JIJI

Diet members have set up a nonpartisan group with the aim of allowing nightclubs to stay open later.

The group for the promotion of dance culture, comprised of some 60 lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition camps, intends to submit a bill to revise the adult entertainment law after the July Upper House election.

The group will hold its inaugural meeting Monday.

Under law, nightclubs are categorized as “adult entertainment premises” and therefore must obtain the proper license.

Although it is illegal for nightclubs to do business after midnight, many remain open until early in the morning without a license.

Recently, such establishments have led to problems with neighbors. The number of unlicensed clubs raided by police is also up.

According to the National Police Agency, 361 complaints were made about nightclubs across the country between April and October 2012. Of them, 231 involved unlicensed clubs. Most were about noise or fights between drunken customers.

In 2010, there was an injury at a club that resulted in death, and in 2012 a club was the scene of a murder.

The agency has expressed opposition to any revision of the law, saying “it is difficult to eliminate regulations on clubs as harm has actually been caused.”

Lower House member Tsukasa Akimoto of the Liberal Democratic Party, secretary general of the group, said the energy for new cultures to develop is lost when constrained by the law.

“As nightclubs are part of the service industry, which is expected to grow, longer business hours would open new markets,” he said.

The group hopes to revise the adult entertainment business law to either loosen regulations, including permitting longer business hours, or to exempt nightclubs from that specific law.

The group is also considering including a clause in an envisioned bill that would oblige club owners to take their neighbors more into consideration.