Bar and club patrons will soon be able to pull an all nighter once again, thanks to a government committee who is seriously considering handing a recommendation to relax laws regulating dance clubs and allowing such establishments to stay open late.
A committee set by the government has unanimously voted on May 12 that a reform on laws imposed on dance clubs must be relaxed. “The regulatory structure prescribed by the Entertainment Business Act is out of date,” according to Motoyuki Oka, chairman of the committee. Oka told reporters at a news conference that loosening the laws will actually “help spur our economic activity.” The committee has suggested that dance clubs must be subjected to the laws imposed on restaurants that would allow them to open until late at night. Current law dictates bar clubs to be closed by midnight, along with cabaret clubs that ask patrons to pay for the company of hosts and hostesses as they drink. Because alcohol and food are served in dance clubs, they are categorized in the same level of establishment as the cabarets. But many in the committee argued that dance clubs operate differently than the cabarets. Instead of classifying such establishments with those that offer intimate services along with food and drinks, the committee suggested that dance clubs be designated as “late night drinking establishments.”
Many dance clubs were forced to close earlier because of police authorities’ crackdown on violators of the Entertainment Business Act, which began in 2012. This prompted musicians and other prominent figures in the entertainment industry to launch a petition for the laws to be reviewed and eventually changed. Their petition reached 150,000 signatures, which have since been submitted to the Diet. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced that the government would respond to the committee once they have submitted the recommendations formally. The committee is aiming for relaxed regulations on dance clubs in hopes of attracting more tourists in the run-up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
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