The National Police Agency is considering making it harder for teenagers to buy magazines and videos deemed “harmful” due to their pornographic or violent contents from convenience stores, agency officials said August 22.

The agency will ask the convenience store industry in the near future to separate books and videos designated as harmful from other products and to refrain from selling them to minors, the officials said. The measure comes in the wake of the alleged murder of an 11-year-old in Kobe by a teenage suspect which has refueled debate over the need to limit children’s access to harmful material, such as videos and books of an excessively pornographic or violent nature.

While all of Japan’s 47 prefectures, except Nagano Prefecture, have ordinances banning the sale of material designated as harmful to those aged 18 or under, few precautions are taken and minors have easy access to a wide range of such products. To rectify this situation, the agency will ask convenience stores to check their products beforehand and to place the harmful magazines and videos in “adult sections,” for example, or near the cash register, where the presence of clerks may discourage minors from buying them.

The NPA revised its guidelines on juvenile crime earlier this month for the first time in 15 years. It calls for tightening control on telephone clubs and other sex-related businesses.

The revised guideline also calls for measures to curb the proliferation of pornographic material on the market. According to the NPA, police took criminal action against 69,646 minors aged between 14 and 19 during the first half of this year, up 21 percent from the same period in 1996. Of that total, 178 teenagers were arrested for rape — more than double the number compared with the previous period, it said.

Felonies, including murder, robbery and rape, were committed by 1,040 teenagers, a 59 percent increase from the same period last year, the NPA said. It also said 2,517 cases of prostitution involving high school girls were reported last year, and police authorities have expressed concern over the increase in juvenile crime.

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