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Before living in the pornography-free United Arab Emirates as a student, I did not realize the effect that seeing pornographic magazines every day had on me.

In Japan, pornography is accessible to all, with a high dependency on convenience stores for sales. Trying to enforce the age restriction on purchasing such material is virtually futile. Pornography not only creates an offensive and uncomfortable shopping environment, it projects women as sexual objects.

Every time we go to a convenience store to buy a drink, we are reminded that we serve for men’s sexual pleasure. By the term “we” I mean females of all ages in Japan, from mere 10-year-olds to their grandmothers.

This January, Aeon will suspend sales of pornographic magazines. This great step forward, however, is for the sake of the “expected influx of foreign visitors for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games” (“Aeon to stop selling pornographic magazines at its 7,000 outlets” in the Nov. 23 edition.)

The real issue is not about our country’s national image. It is about empowering our women. Japan is ranked 114th out of 144 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index by World Economic Forum this year, only six spots above the UAE, a Muslim country that many Japanese view as “oppressive” to women.

Approximately a third of women in Japan have been sexually harassed, according to a government report, and 90 percent of the victims remain silent. Thus the status quo of the patriarchy remains unchanged, and even reinforces the idea of women as a sexual object.

Other convenience chains should follow Aeon not for vain self-consciousness, but for believing in women’s power. As the country shrinks in population, it is now an imminent need for all of our people to be fully empowered.

MISA MORIKAWA
ABU DHABI

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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