Risqué magazines in Japan

Recently, an article on the Japan Times website was published about a big Japanese retail company deciding to stop selling pornographic magazines in 7,000 of its stores. When James read this he promptly sent it to me knowing it was good news that I would want to read about.

Since living in Japan I have become accustomed to avoiding looking at magazine sections in convenience stores. In some ways it is relatively easy as I’m not likely to be in the market for buying a magazine, as I can’t read them. That's not to say that I’m not sometimes interested in what's on offer and I'm not opposed to looking at a fashion magazine as all I really need to see are the pictures. However, avoiding the magazine sections can be tricky seeing as I frequent convenience stores nearly every day, and they all have different layouts, so sometimes I do come across pornographic magazines directly in my eye-line.

 The magazine section of our local 7-Eleven.

The magazine section of our local 7-Eleven.

When I first came here I was definitely shocked at how brazenly obvious the porn magazines were. It's not like in England where if you were to want a porn magazine you would need to seek them out on the top shelf in a newsagents. I don't remember ever coming across a porn magazine there apart from seeing a ‘Page 3’ model in a newspaper. Whereas here they are at eye level and very much accessible. As it says in the Japan Times article: the Japan convenience store association decided to make it compulsory that all porn magazines are sealed since 2004. Unfortunately, this ‘led publishers to produce more provocative front covers to boost sales’ which I can say is the case as the first few times they caught my eye I was genuinely stunned by the type of image that was just sitting there in front of me. Its one of those moments where you see the image, can't believe what you're seeing and know you should look away yet you just can’t. And then after a few seconds you're suddenly aware you're in public and you nervously look around to see if someone else saw you looking!

With time, as I said, I have trained myself just not to look and it's become very much out of sight, out of mind. I have, to my shame, just accepted it. However, since having Isaac, I’ve suddenly started to think about how exactly I tackle the issue of him seeing it. The height at which the magazines are displayed means he probably could spot them even from his buggy. Not that he is aware enough or it would catch his eye now but before we know it he will notice, and what happens then? I’m not one of these unrealistic mums who thinks I can keep my children from seeing things like this. I know that one day Isaac will be exposed to it and by that time I hope we will have already tried our best to openly discuss it and talk about the dangers of such things. But I want to keep him from unnecessarily seeing those images before a time where it may indeed become something he will come across. But, with porn magazines being so openly in public in convenience stores, unless companies follow in the footsteps of Aeon and Ministop, it's going to be an issue James and I are going to have to tackle much earlier.

All I can say right now is, thank you Aeon and Ministop. Hopefully this will create a domino effect to other stores and by the time Isaac is of an age where he will notice, it won’t be a problem.