Is Dancing Really A Crime in Tokyo?

As a matter of fact, YES, it is a crime to dance in Tokyo, and you might be heavily fined for it. This law against dancing in public and nightclubs in Japan dates back to the post World War II times. Japanese government imposed this ban amid hopes to curb the rates of prostitution in the country when it was at its lowest of the times – that is after World War II. Nevertheless, the ban was relaxed a little bit in 2015 when the government in Japan allowed dancing in the nightclubs provided that the issued guidelines are followed.

However, do not be amazed if it is the first time you are hearing about it. According to Independent, this law had been almost completely forgotten by the people as the police had turned a blind eye to this situation and never took action against the club owners or the people.

The History of the Ban

This law of no-dancing in Japan was introduced in 1948 in the wake of World War II. It is known as the adult entertainment business law or fueihō and had been put in place to control the staggering sex industry in poverty-stricken Japan after WWII. Back then, dance clubs were dubbed as the prime spots where people picked up sex workers and prostitutes.

The nightclubs in the country were instructed to close at midnight till the morning – which was considered the time when people looked out for hookers. This law also pertained to dance lessons as it included dancing in pairs, which was considered to be promoting the sexual tension between men and women.

This law was termed as archaic by numerous, and the people considered it as the main cause of talent being wasted. Japanese artists dubbed this law as old-school and a hindrance in advancing their careers. However, interestingly, this age-old ban only remained in the books up until 2010 when Japanese police started a strict crackdown on nightclubs violating the no-dancing ban.

Before 2010, the nightlife in Japan thrived even with the law in place as the police never really bothered implementing the ban. The law permitted dancing in some clubs and that too until midnight. Nevertheless, the nightclubs kept on violating the rule, but that changed in 2010.

Strict Implementation of the Law In 2010

After a series of suspected drug scandals and the sad death of a young Japanese student at a nightclub in Osaka, the Japanese police initiated a strict crackdown on the clubs violating this law. This wave of raids was carried out in lieu of implementing the old law that was there in the books since 1948 but unfortunately, was never followed strictly.

Numerous clubs and dancing venues were closed down due to this new act by the Japanese police. As most of the people were baffled by this newfound implementation, the club owners were also in the same boat. The dance scene and nightlife in the country’s capital suffered a great blow, with numerous big clubs being shut down over violation.

The implementation of the ban drew huge criticism from the music industry as they feared that the industry would flop. However, a big name in the music industry of the country, Ryuichi Sakamoto, started a fierce campaign that resulted in the relaxation of this law. It was then when the things started to get a bit easier than they used to be when the law was implemented in 2010.

Relaxation of the Ban

The campaign against this outdated law regarding no dancing in Japan took a serious turn when it was able to secure more than 150,000 signatures from around the country. This happened in the year 2015 when some relaxation in the ban was legislated by Japan’s House of Councilors.

The relaxation in the ban came with certain conditions that the club owners and dancers were instructed to follow. The conditions included the following:

  • Club owners were required to have proper permits to run their businesses. Without these permits, they shall not be allowed to host dance parties.
  • The permits have to be obtained from the Nighttime Entertainment Restaurant Operations.
  • It was made necessary that the dancing clubs should be made far away from the residential areas
  • There should be a minimum level of lighting at the clubs to allow dancing. The government passed the rule that the clubs that want to obtain permits for dancing must have lighting brighter than 10 lux – which is equivalent to a fully lit cinema or theatre.
  • The conditions also included that the clubs who failed to meet the lighting requirement will be raided and closed as per the previous law and shut down after midnight.

According to the Jiji Press, the actions for implementing this relaxation will be severe, and the police will have all the resources to act against the clubs operating without a permit. The provision also included that the clubs that want to operate for 24 hours are not supposed to serve alcohol after midnight.

It is also speculated that softening the ban and providing relaxations with certain conditions is partly due to the 2020 Olympics. It is claimed that the hoard of visitors and tourists the country will be receiving during the Olympics will have to be entertained. The nightlife and clubbing in the country were claimed to bring a lot of money and entertainment for the guests.

Final Words

Sweden also stands in the line of Japan having a ban on public dancing and clubbing. However, the relaxations passed in Japan are considered to be the first step towards the complete annihilation of this law. The country’s nightlife lovers and people from the entertainment industry are furious over this ban and are looking forward to the time when this whole thing can end, and they could advance their careers from local clubs to big platforms.