Since last year, police have been raiding clubs in major cities across Japan for allowing dancing after 1 a.m., which is a violation of the the Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses.
Up until now, Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka have been the prime targets. But police activities regarding late-night dancing in Tokyo now appear to be increaing, which Weekly Playboy (Oct. 15) reports is actually just a roundabout means for tackling much larger problems.
The nationwide adult-entertainment law was enacted in 1948. Police authorities had tacitly permitted establishments to flout the 1 a.m. requirement with impunity. Weekly Playboy says the change in attitude is due to concerns about where money is flowing and incidents of violence.
The tabloid cites the bust in May of club Alife, located in the Roppongi entertainment area of Tokyo, as the start of the sweep in Tokyo.
The situation escalated last month. On September 2, a group of men in ski masks and armed with metal bats arrived at club Flower, now known as Studio Gate, and assaulted Ryosuke Fujimoto, who was drinking in the club’s VIP room with a party of five people. The 31-year-old suffered substantial head injuries and was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died one hour and 20 minutes later.
Less than two weeks later, Shibuya became a police target. On September 14, three clubs in the Maruyamacho area and one in Jinnan were entered by police authorities but the only consequences were that letters of apology be written.
At the end of the month, police activities then shifted back to Roppongi, where Alife was cited for evading 39 million yen in taxes on income of 130 million yen. On September 30, officers raided Studio Gate for late-night dancing and arrested eight employees.
A Shibuya club employee says that it is common sense for the police to crack down on clubs in Tokyo following the Roppongi assault since the ease with which the crime was committed is a strong indicator that the suspects had inside knowledge of the club scene.
“But the idea going around that there is some kind of crackdown in Tokyo is incorrect,” says the club veteran. “If the cops raid a place, management is only asked to submit an apology. The matter is disposed of quickly, and then it is business as usual.”
Mastoshi Kanemitsu, the owner of Osaka’s club Noon, which was busted in April, disagrees, saying such a viewpoint is too optimistic. “What is happening in Tokyo follows the same pattern in Amemura last year,” says Kanemitsu, referring to the popular Osaka club district. “The police investigated each club, and then one or two months later they came back and made more arrests. So in Osaka we all think that Shibuya will face new problems soon.”
The owner questions why police would first target Shibuya clubs if they were sincerely taking action following the Roppongi incident. “It is just the excuse they needed,” says Kanemitsu. “From now, things will become even more strict.” (K.N.)
Source: “Boso suru fueiho gureezoonu tekihatsu no omowanu ‘hyoteki,'” Weekly Playboy (Oct. 15, page 30)