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2014年5月 1日 (木)


April 30, 2014
EDITORIAL: Outdated law makes dancing a crime

As it stands, the Adult Entertainment Business Regulation Law is in need of a radical overhaul because it is so outdated. The law enables police to clamp down on entertainment establishments where customers dance on the premises.

In recent years, a number of nightclubs have come under police investigation for allowing dancing without permission from local public safety commissions. Most of these investigations were conducted in response to complaints from neighborhood residents about noise and acts of violence at the clubs.

However, the Osaka District Court on April 25 acquitted a former club operator in Osaka, who had been charged with violating the entertainment business law by allowing customers to dance without permission from the authorities.

The ruling stated in no unclear terms that since the purpose of this law is to prevent problems related to the sex industry, it is not designed to address public concerns about neighborhood noise, violence or drug issues. The court effectively disapproved of the police roundups to clamp down more harshly on nightclubs by invoking this law.

When the law took effect in 1948, it targeted dancing as an activity to be regulated apparently because prewar dance halls were often hotbeds of prostitution.

At the trial, the prosecution argued that the defendant's guilt or innocence depended on whether his establishment "encouraged an atmosphere of excessive indecency" among men and women on the dance floor.

In this case, however, the Osaka prefectural police investigated the club even though the customers were dancing without touching each other. At the end of the day, any investigation of nightclubs is done at the discretion of the police. Clearly, an objective standard by which to determine whether the investigation is warranted is lacking.

The thinking of the police could not be more divorced from the legal principle that the law must clearly define; that is, what kinds of deeds should be punished as crimes.

Dancing is a form of self-expression based on the movement of one's body. Freedom of expression is guaranteed under the Constitution, and quite obviously, this freedom must not be casually denied. The court ruled the Adult Entertainment Business Regulation Law itself to be constitutional, but any restriction on constitutionally guaranteed freedoms must be kept to the minimum.

Young people around the world enjoy hip-hop, reggae, salsa and so on, while dancing in pairs, which brings partners of the opposite sex into physical contact, is popular among senior citizens today.

In this day and age, it simply does not stand to reason to regard dancing as an "obscene" activity.

In reaction to the police roundups of nightclubs in recent years, Japan's cultural leaders and others have begun calling for amendments to the entertainment business law. A suprapartisan federation of Diet members is expected to propose a revision bill during the current session of the Diet. We hope the Osaka District Court verdict will encourage further debate.

Obviously, the understanding of neighborhood residents is indispensable to creating an environment where people can dance freely. Unfortunately, some of the clubs that came under police investigation were inexcusably lax in this respect, and that was one of the reasons the neighbors became concerned.

The adult entertainment industry needs to prove itself fully willing to rid itself of crimes related to drugs and violence. For the industry to continue enjoying freedom, it must live up to the responsibility of voluntarily making every effort to win the trust of the public.

--The Asahi Shimbun, April 29


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