The Cabinet approved a bill Friday to revise the adult entertainment business law to enable dance clubs to operate past midnight, provided they meet interior lighting regulations.
The legislation, which requires Diet approval for enactment, was crafted after a chorus of criticism from music industry figures and intellectuals who took issue with dance clubs being classified in the same way as sex parlors.
The current Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses defines a venue providing dining and alcohol to customers and allowing them to dance as an adult entertainment establishment that requires a license to operate. In principle, the law bans it from running from midnight through sunrise.
Under the proposed revision, a club would be considered an “adult entertainment” business if it maintains dark interior lighting of 10 luxes, roughly corresponding to a movie theater during a recess, or less. It would remain subject to regulations under the adult entertainment law.
A club maintaining more than 10 luxes inside would not be considered an adult entertainment establishment even if it allows patrons to dance, and if it closes before midnight, it will be classified as a “food-serving establishment.”
A club operating past midnight would require a license from a local public safety committee and would be separately categorized. It would be authorized to operate around the clock if located in an area designated by a prefectural government under ordinance.
The National Police Agency is planning to measure illumination in seating areas and allow dimmer dance areas, given their light settings vary. Many clubs currently are believed to set lighting at 10 luxes or less in customer seating areas.
Club operators welcomed the planned revision at a meeting Monday in Tokyo, where they were invited by a nonpartisan group of Diet lawmakers who call themselves “the parliamentarian league for the promotion of dance culture.”
“I’m impressed by the deep degree of understanding they have shown,” a participant said of the lawmakers’ efforts in working out the proposed bill.
Police have conducted crackdowns on an increasing number of clubs without license for the past several years. Many establishments operate underground because licensed clubs would have to close at midnight and getting a license would also mean placing themselves under the watch of the authorities.
“It would be easier for police to grasp the situation of the (club) industry if establishments licensed by public safety committees increase through deregulation, instead of strict regulations pushing more and more businesses going underground,” a police official said.
If the revised bill becomes law, “we can expect to spot really malicious establishments more easily,” the official said.
The initiative gained momentum after the Osaka District Court acquitted in April a former nightclub operator of debasing morals by allowing patrons to dance.
The bill was written in line with the government’s deregulation implementation plan approved by the Cabinet in June. The government is aiming to pass the bill in the current Diet session.
The NPA is expected to seek public comments as to how illumination should be measured in clubs once the revision to the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses is approved.