This episode of Real Scenes, About The Tokyo Underground, peaks to me on so many levels.
“Humans eat, reproduce and sleep,” says Dommune’s Naohiro Ukawa. “And they dance.” But in Japanese clubs these days, this basic form of expression is illegal. The Entertainment Business Control Law, or Fueiho as it is commonly known, was passed decades ago to control prostitution in the Japanese entertainment industry. It states that venues under 66 meters squared cannot obtain a license to allow dancing. For years authorities turned a blind eye to the club scene in Tokyo, which became known as one of the world’s best places to hear dance music. But over the last couple of years, the police have begun to stringently clamp down. There are many theories as to why this happened (most people see the restrictions in Osaka, which began in 2010, as a starting place for the enforcement of Fueiho) but the result is that a once vibrant scene is now being slowly strangled.
For our latest Real Scenes films, we journey to the Japanese capital to meet the DJs, promoters, campaigners and producers who have been affected by the Fueiho. We hear how a rapidly aging population and the negative public perception of nightclubs have meant that fighting for reform is just part of the problem. Despite these extraordinary challenges, Tokyo is home to a passionate, dedicated dance music community, who have responded with campaign groups like Let’s DANCE, and the establishment of small, underground music spaces. There is a collective understanding that if they want to affect change it will have to come from within.