the government is about to allow late-night dancing with a new parliamentary bill
WEIRDLY enough, Japan is still a land where you can’t move to the rhythm in a nightclub after midnight. This is despite years of campaigning by Japan’s youth. Yet nothing they have done has succeeded in changing laws—from the time of Japan's postwar occupation by American forces—that ban late-night dancing. The aim then was to stop prostitution linked to so-called dance halls. Occasionally, people have cleverly flouted the rules. One establishment in Tokyo offered bags of udon-noodle dough for clients to “knead” with their feet. This qualified them as workers rather than groovers, they said.
Certainly no one expected that Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, a social conservative from the traditionally-minded Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), would change things. Yet the government is about to allow late-night dancing with a new parliamentary bill, expected to pass this year. As long as light levels are kept high enough for police to see into the corners, revelers will be allowed to dance into the small hours.
Though the change will not have much effect on the economy, it is symbolic. The police in recent years had started to raid nightclubs more frequently. Ravers were mostly drug-takers, they claimed. The timing looked odd for Mr Abe, who is promoting the notion of “Cool Japan” in a celebration of youth culture. The rule change should also raise the festive mood for foreign visitors ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Another government scheme that may do more to boost the economy is to permit for the first time the building of big, luxurious casinos in large cities. Some Japanese, particularly women, fear they will spread addiction to gambling and impoverish households. Komeito, a Buddhist-supported party which is the LDP’s coalition partner, is against the change. Yet they choose to turn a blind eye to the fact that pachinko, a legal pinball-like gambling game, already earns over $150 billion each year from its customers.
The recent talk has been that the government will duck the issue by forbidding Japanese from entering the new casinos. The symbolism of such a restriction would be strong. If such a measure were passed, said Sheldon Adelson, an American casino magnate, there would be no point in betting his capital on the Japanese market. Still, it is likely that the suggestion of opening casinos to foreigners only is designed to ease passage of a first bill. Mr Abe’s recent moves on late-night dancing seems to signal that Japan is ready to loosen up a little.
Japan is still a land where you can't move to the rhythm in a nightclub after midnight. This is despite years of campaigning by Japan's youth. Certainly no one expected that the country's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, a social conservative, would change things. Yet the government is about to allow late-night dancing with a new parliamentary bill http://econ.st/1Dwndws