EL Barco Proprietors Need Your Help

no dancingI mentioned a police raid on El Barco last weekend in an earlier post, but I didn’t realise how serious the situation was until reading a message posted by Barco proprietor Richard Nishiyama’s wife, Kiyomi, on the company site. Over 50 police, immigration officials and riot police raided El Barco and arrested Richard and Hideko Nishiyama for a permit violation – a violation which appears to be little more than a technicality.

Whether a Saturday night at El Barco is your cup of tea or not, as far as I can tell the Nishiyamas are very good – not to mention hard working – people and deserve our support.

Below is a hurried translation of Kiyomi’s explanation and call for help.

Early in the morning of May 14 the directors of El Barco Ltd, Hideko and Richard Nishiyama, were arrested under the Night Entertainment Business Control Act (Fūzoku eigyō no kisei oyobi gyōmu no tekiseika tou ni kansuru
). I would first like to apologise for any worry or inconvenience anyone may have been caused anyone. The remaining staff are deeply shocked by this sudden and unexpected matter.

We would like call upon you to write testimonials on behalf of Richard and Hideko, outlining any positive influence on the Hiroshima community that their activities may have had. Such testimonials can take any form, just in standard letter format is fine, so we call upon you to do this for Hideko and Richard.
Please include

  • Personal details (name, address, age, occupation)
  • Your relationship to Richard and Hideko
  • As long as it is truthful, write anything you like about what you like about Barco and it’s good points
  • Close with your desire for an appropriately lenient outcome

If possible, please send or drop off testimonials at Barco by Saturday. Those who do not wish to write a full testimonial can sign their name to a petition at Barco.

I would like to take this opportunity to make the situation clear. The directors have been arrested for making/having customers dance without a night entertainment permit. There is in fact only one establishment in Hiroshima that actually holds all the licenses technically required under the Night Entertainment Business Control Act. Obtaining such a permit however places limits on the hours that a business can stay open. El Barco is registered as a late night business (shinya eigyō), however, that does not permit dancing. It is not possible to obtain both a permits, meaning that under current Japanese law it is legally impossible to run an establishment where you can drink and dance late into the night. It thus follows that this is matter is a problem for all the late night clubs across Japan.
We also have reservations about the manner in which the arrests were carried out, with over 50 police officers, immigration officials and riot police raiding El Barco late Saturday night to arrest only two people for a permit violation.

Once again I call on you to help bring Hideko and Richard home as early as possible.

If you’ve been complaining about discrimination and unfair treatment on the blogs or in the bars this week, this is a chance to do more than talk. It’s at times like this that the usually vocal and self-righteous suddenly go quiet, “‘cos after all it’s not my problem.” Make an effort and do something to show some real support.

Paul Walsh

Paul arrived in Hiroshima "for a few months" back in 1996. He is the co-founder of GetHiroshima.com and loves running in the mountains.