Since 1948, all “adult entertainment establishments” – which includes venues for dancing – in Japan have been required to close at midnight. New legislation passed last year and coming into effect this month will allow club owners to apply for permits to change their classification, Resident Advisor reports.
To successfully transform into a “Nighttime Entertainment Restaurant Operation,” clubs must meet certain standards related to lighting (“internal illumination… roughly equivalent to that inside a movie theater before the show begins”), size (a dancefloor “larger than 33 sq. meters”), and decor (no “pictures, ads and decorations that interfere with the healthy development of youths”). In addition, venues cannot exist in primarily residential neighborhoods, and they must respect noise regulations. According to The Japan Times, Tokyo contains 638 districts in which venues can operate.
Once a venue is approved for “Nighttime Entertainment” status, it will be allowed to stay open until 5 a.m., as long as it does not serve alcohol. Resident Advisor suggests that there have been roughly 70 applications for status change so far.
Kaz Michijima, director general of the music industry body PROMIC, suggested the new law will have beneficial economic impacts in an interview with Billboard last year. “The changes mean the nightlife industry will grow,” he said. “Those of us working in the sector see the hotel business as what we call an ‘inbound business,’ that is bringing international spending to Japan. With this new law I think the nightlife business can now be another inbound business.”