Japan eases late-night restrictions on dance clubs


The Diet revised the adult entertainment business law on Wednesday to enable dance clubs to operate past midnight if they meet certain conditions.

The revision came after individuals from the music industry such as performer and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, a prominent lobbyist, launched a campaign to revise the 1948 law, criticizing the fact that dance clubs were lumped in to the same category as sex parlors.

Under the revised law, a club would not be defined as an “adult entertainment” business if it has illumination of more than 10 lux — roughly corresponding to that inside a movie theater during intermission.

It would be able to operate around the clock if it obtains permission from a local public safety commission and only in locations to be designated by ordinances.

If it fails to meet the brightness requirement, the establishment would continue to be regulated as an adult entertainment business.

Police will measure illumination in the clubs’ seating areas and permit dimmer light in dance areas, given that light settings can vary on the dance floor.

Clubs planning to operate around the clock would be required under the law to keep records of complaints from neighbors about noise and drunken customers, as well as how the clubs responded to them.

The government submitted a similar bill to the Diet in October, but it was scrapped when the House of Representatives was dissolved in November.

The law had defined venues that provide food and alcohol to customers and that allow them to dance as an adult entertainment establishments, obliging them to obtain a license and to close in principle between midnight and sunrise.

It was seen as promoting a healthy environment for young people by nailing down restraints on establishments linked to prostitution. The law has been revised more than 30 times since its enactment to keep up with changing mores.