National

Japan's convenience store giants to remove pornographic magazines from shelves

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

The three largest convenience chain operators now plan to remove pornographic magazines from their store shelves across the nation by the end of August, after FamilyMart on Tuesday joined the move announced by its two rivals Seven-Eleven and Lawson the previous day.

FamilyMart said all of its shops — run either directly by the firm or franchisees — will, with some possible exceptions, stop selling adult magazines for men, citing an increasingly diversified customer base in recent years.

Seven-Eleven, FamilyMart and Lawson are the nation’s first, second and third largest respectively by number of shops.

A spokesperson at the chain operator FamilyMart UNY Holdings Co. said about 2,000 of its 16,683 stores in Japan have already stopped selling such magazines.

In the past, Lawson’s main customers were men in their 20s and 30s, but “we’ve seen more elderly people, women and children shopping at our stores,” said Li Ming, a spokesperson at Lawson Inc.

Lawson is also seeing a surge in the number of international travelers coming to their stores these days. Displaying sexually explicit magazines restricted to those aged 18 or older in stores could hurt the image of Japan, Li said.

About 4,000 Lawson stores already no longer sell adult magazines, Li said. The chain had 14,574 stores as of December.

While acknowledging that there is a certain market for such products, sales are not strong, so it makes more sense to instead have products that appeal to a wider range of consumers, he added.

Seven-Eleven, which boasts over 20,000 stores nationwide, also plans to clear out porn magazines from its shelves by August, said Katsuhiko Shimizu, a spokesperson at Seven & I Holdings Co.

Shimizu cited a similar reason to Lawson, saying the move is aimed at providing a better shopping environment for a wider range of shoppers.

But the firm is still not sure if the plan can be thoroughly implemented, as some franchisees might say they need to keep selling adult magazines, Shimizu said. FamilyMart also said such stores will be allowed to keep the items.

Ministop Co., a smaller Chiba-based convenience store operator, stopped selling adult magazines at all of its stores in January of last year.