Japanese police agency to allow dancing till dawn

Japanese police agency to allow dancing till dawn
People enjoy dancing at a club in Osaka in April.

The National Police Agency is likely to seek permission for dance clubs to remain open all night, the Yomiuri Shimbun learned Friday.

The Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses currently forbids dance clubs from operating after midnight, as they are legally defined as adult-entertainment businesses. The agency plans to review this issue at an advisory panel, and submit a bill to the Diet to revise the law as early as autumn, sources said.

In addition to regulating the operation of all dance-related businesses, including dance clubs, as adult-entertainment businesses, the law also determines their operating hours and acceptable locations.

The government's Council for Regulatory Reform submitted a report to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday to propose the examination of possibly easing regulations on the operating hours of dance businesses.

The government aims to promote dance clubs as a tourist attraction ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. National Public Safety Commission Chairman Keiji Furuya also said at a press conference after the Cabinet meeting that he aims to submit a bill to revise the law during an extraordinary Diet session in autumn.

After receiving complaints from residents living in the vicinity of dance clubs and dealing with a succession of violent incidents nearby, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, as well as Osaka and other prefectural police headquarters, have cracked down on dance clubs that operated after usual business hours.

Twenty-two dance clubs were subject to the crackdown in 2011.

The NPA is considering legally differentiating between dance clubs and adult-entertainment businesses. However, it is also considering setting a condition that such clubs should take all possible steps to control noise.

In April, the Osaka District Court acquitted the former operator of a dance club accused of running the establishment without permission and in violation of the law, based on its judgment that "it cannot be said that the operator allowed customers to engage in the kind of hedonistic dancing regulated by the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses."

A suprapartisan group of Diet members is also seeking to revise the law through the introduction of legislation by Diet members.

Though the NPA has so far taken a cautious stance about easing the regulation, it was pushed to reconsider its position after consultation with parties involved, observers said. However, residents living around dance clubs and other dance businesses are concerned that relaxation of the regulation may cause more noise.

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