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Tuesday, 15th July 2014
In Events In Japan,

Ban on dancing to end

Japanese society has long enforced a ban that prevented late-night dancing at clubs and bars, with many dance-related establishments closing at midnight or 1am. But the government is considering scrapping the law and bringing the party big-style in time for the Olympic Games.

Technically, any dancing at any public venue in Japan is illegal, and only clubs with a special license are permitted to run late into the night, while karaoke bars continue unaffected by the legislation until the early hours of the morning. 

Initially, the rules were designed to prevent prostitution linked to dance halls, and were loosely enforced up until 2010 when the death of a 22-year-old student in a bar brawl bought them sharply back into the public conscience.

Raids and crackdowns by the police have once again become common, with many dance halls closing down, as 'No dancing' signs were erected in the streets.

But now, it seems public opinion has turned the other way, inspiring debate in parliament and leading to the government to ease up as part of a deregulation drive led by prime minister Shinzo Abe.

"This law is unnecessary," committee secretary general Tsukasa Akimoto, of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told AFP. "Why should dancing be illegal? Obviously the Olympics are a factor. It's realistic to expect the law to be changed by the end of this year."

Takahiro Saito, a Tokyo-based lawyer who spearheaded a movement against the law called Let's Dance, told Reuters: "I think politicians and authorities are feeling pressure as they don't want Japan to be seen as a boring place by foreign tourists."

Talks of deregulating the bill are very much in progress, with Mr Abe due to submit for government approval by the end of the week.

However, since the law was originally introduced with the purpose of allowing police to investigate rowdy clubs where drug dealing and prostitution might have been a possibility, it is likely that police intrusion will remain a possibility in clubland.

Written by Graham McPherson

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