Major Japanese retail chain Aeon Co. will stop selling pornographic magazines at its 7,000 outlets across the country in January in response to complaints from customers about sexually explicit front covers on store shelves.

Ministop Co., a convenience store chain under the umbrella of Aeon, will suspend sales of sexually explicit magazines currently restricted to those aged 18 and over at 43 outlets in the city of Chiba on Dec. 1.

Aeon has decided to stop selling pornographic magazines at supermarkets, Miraiya Shoten book stores as well as online before an expected influx of foreign visitors for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"We have been receiving reports from customers who think twice about entering stores when they are with a child," said Ministop President Akihiro Fujimoto at a press conference at the Chiba municipal office Tuesday.

"In order to fulfill our mission of being part of the social fabric, we will make our stores a place that everyone can use in peace," said Fujimoto.

Ministop, which runs around 2,200 convenience stores across Japan, will stop selling pornographic magazines in Chiba's prefectural capital next month, in line with Mayor Toshihito Kumagai's plan to restrict sales of such magazines at convenience stores.

The mayor said, "I hope (Ministop's move) will create a momentum for stores that young people as well as women can use comfortably at all times."

In 2004, the Japanese convenience store association established guidelines for pornographic magazines to be sealed so that customers could not open them in stores. But the move led publishers to produce more provocative front covers to boost sales, drawing criticism from some customers.

Japan's three major convenience store chain operators — Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Lawson Inc. and FamilyMart Co. — have yet to decide how to handle the issue.