OSAKA--The operator of a popular Osaka nightclub who was charged with violating the entertainment business law for allowing customers to dance without permission was found not guilty on April 25, although the court defended the intent of the law.
The Osaka District Court nullified the charge against Masatoshi Kanemitsu, a 51-year-old owner of the Club Noon, judging that the manner of dancing of customers at his club in Osaka’s Kita Ward was not obscene.
In his ruling, Presiding Judge Masato Saito said that there is a “reasonable doubt that the club allowed customers to dance in an obscene manner that can disturb sexual morals.”
But the court rejected the defendant’s claim that the regulation imposed by the entertainment business law violates the Constitution, as it infringes on freedom of expression.
“The regulation has an important aim of promoting the healthy fostering of young people,” the judge said.
Kanemitsu was charged with violating provisions of the Adult Entertainment Business Regulation Law that state clubs that allow customers to dine, drink and dance on their premises must obtain permission from the prefectural public safety commission.
However, clubs that receive permission are only allowed to stay open until 1 a.m. Many dance clubs do not seek approval so they can stay operating until much later.
Kanemitsu was arrested and indicted for operating a club without permission of the Osaka Prefectural Public Safety Commission on the night of April 4, 2012.
Prosecutors sought a six-month prison sentence and a 1 million yen ($9,800) fine for the club operator.
The focal point of his trial centered around whether his customers were dancing in an obscene manner.
Saito ruled that Club Noon did not violate the entertainment business law because there was enough space on the dance floor to keep the dancers apart.
He also said that the club did not encourage patrons to dance in an obscene manner.
Legal experts said that the ruling can affect the ongoing debate on whether to reform the nation's controversial entertainment business law. A supra-partisan league of Diet members is currently seeking revisions to the law to relax regulations on nightclubs.
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