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Why The Rolling Stones were banned from Japan

For decades, The Rolling Stones weren’t permitted to play in Japan despite being the biggest band in the world. Their status as superstars counted for nothing in the eyes of the Japanese authorities, who felt like the band were a bad influence on their population.

The Stones discovered the news when they plotted a concert in Japan on January 27th 1973, but visa issues brought their plans to a halt due to Mick Jagger’s previous drug conviction. The shows in Asia were part of their Stones Touring Party run which they planned to continue throughout Australia and Hawaii.

Jagger was arrested in 1967 along with his then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull, which led to the pair spending a night in prison. They were never prosecuted as part of the Redlands drugs bust, however, despite this, it was an association which continued for decades and helped make The Rolling Stones the world’s most dangerous band.

The group finally got to play Japan in 1990, but there were more complications in the pipeline. Their relationship with the country remained complex even after the Asian country had seemingly accepted them, and their skirmishes with Japanese law weren’t over.

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Surprisingly, their acceptance from Japan was down to Jagger, which is ironic considering he was also the very reason why they initially had visa issues. In 1988, he toured the country as a solo artist, a test-run for The Rolling Stones arriving in 1990, and it didn’t disappoint.

It was carnage when they arrived at Narita Airport before their show at the Tokyo Dome, as Japan laid eyes on The Rolling Stones in the flesh for the first time. The show was sold-out, with 50,000 fans paying $70 to see them in action for a night that lasted long in the country’s memory.

However, the only reason the show was allowed to go ahead was that Jagger was given special dispensation from the Japanese state ahead of the performance. He still wasn’t allowed to visit the country freely, which led to a commotion in 1992.

Jagger had tried to fly into the country for a press trip to promote his movie, Free Jack, but he was refused entry. Even though it was 19 years after the initial incident, the frontman was still an enemy in the eyes of Japan. Thankfully, there is a happy ending to this tale — The Rolling Stones have played the country on dozens of occasions since this incident, and the singer’s relationship with the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ has firmly been resolved.