The politics of dancing in Japan
Dancing is illegal in Japan. That does not mean it doesn’t happen, and indeed nightclubs regularly stay open into the early hours. However, since 2010 police have begun reanimating Japan’s old fueiho cabaret law, dubiously used to crackdown on nightclubs. This has been a disaster for Japan’s vibrant underground music scene, an affront to freedom of expression, and evidence of a growing authoritarianism by elites who rely on vague legal and institutional practices. With a push back from Japan’s civil society in the form of the Let’s Dance Campaign, and a simultaneous alignment between domestic and international elites worried about the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, things may be beginning to change. This article explores the structures of power underlying this issue and speculates on the degree to which recent developments may be cause for alarm or cheer.