Pornography protected? Chiba City plan to cover up adult magazines at convenience stores stumbles

We’ve written before about the growing speculation on the fate of Japanese convenience store’s typically ample selection of adult magazines. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics fast approaching, some have noted the possible demise or at least temporary concealment of this corner of liberty in a straitened society.

Schemes are underway to make this a reality, though with mixed success.

Chiba City attempted to carry out a test with convenience stores, asking them to cover up their porn mags with covers and see what happened to sales. Unfortunately the 12 brands of 7-Eleven that the city had planned to use for the scheme have all turned it down, meaning the authorities are desperately hunting for alternative candidates to get their pilot project going.

According to surveys, some 70% of people support the idea in principle but no one wants to or seems able to implement it.

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Firstly, there is the cost of the “censorship”: all those covers cost tax-payers’ money, you know, with Chiba City spending some ¥390,000 on 4,200 paper files (which seems extremely expensive per file).

Secondly, there is the issue of free speech, which is constitutionally protected. No one wants to be seen to be clamping down on publishers. While the media refrains from talking bad about the emperor, sex remains a relatively liberated zone. Governmentes are treading very carefully.

Another pilot scheme was tried in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, at Family Mart stores last March, but without conclusive effects. The possibility of it being adopted nationwide or in Tokyo are still some ways off, it appears.

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An online survey by Chiba City found that over 74% of citizens approved of its project and just 4.8% opposed and 20.5% could not say either way. However, this was a small-scale survey and we wonder what the results would be if you asked 1,000 random people using a convenience store.

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