Japan’s government is considering relaxing a law that forbids late-night dancing in public establishments, a draft proposal revealed this week, potentially ending police raids that have shuttered nightclubs across the country.
Dancing at public venues is technically illegal in Japan and only permitted until midnight in clubs with a special licence, a vestige of a law on “businesses affecting public morals”, which was passed in 1948 to stamp out prostitution linked to dance halls.
The police renewed enforcement of the law four years ago, however, with a crackdown on bars and clubs after a student was killed in a brawl and worries mounted about the country’s youth culture against a backdrop of celebrity drug scandals.
Now, a public backlash against the law has spurred debate in parliament and led the government to ease up as part of a broader deregulation drive by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants to stimulate the economy and prepare for an increase in tourism ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I think politicians and authorities are feeling pressure as they don’t want Japan to be seen as a boring place by foreign tourists,” said Takahiro Saito, a Tokyo-based lawyer who spearheaded a movement against the law called “Let’s Dance”.
The government will have until March to decide how or whether to change the legislation after talking to related parties, the proposal says. – Reuters