• Kyodo

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The Osaka Prefectural Government is planning to require bookstores and other shops to wrap or tie up what it considers obscene publications to prevent children from browsing through them on store shelves, officials said Tuesday.

Retailers are reportedly reluctant to accept the new requirement because of the cost as well as the possible infringement of freedom of expression.

Osaka will be the second prefecture to introduce the measure, following Tokyo, which obliges stores to wrap books it designates as “unhealthy.”

Osaka has already banned the sale of books it sees as having sexually stimulating contents or contents that potentially induce crimes.

Bookstores in the prefecture have allocated shelves for publications with some sexual content to separate them from other publications and make it difficult for children to access them. They have also been urging children not to browse through such books and magazines.

New regulations, however, are considered necessary as some children manage to peek at the publications, the officials said.

A prefectural ordinance could be revised by March 2006 to include the requirement and a relevant fine, the officials said.

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