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Chiba to cover up adult magazine covers in trial ahead of Olympics

Chiba Mayor Toshihito Kumagai speaks at Chiba City Hall on Feb. 13, 2017. (Mainichi)

CHIBA -- The Chiba Municipal Government is set to start concealing the covers of adult magazines sold at some convenience stores in the city, out of consideration for children and visitors from overseas who are expected to increase in number as Japan looks to hold the 2020 Olympic Games.

The move, which will go into effect this summer, aims to prevent such publications from giving the region a bad image.

City officials say they plan to implement the model initiative around August or September at 12 7-Eleven stores in the city with which the municipal government has formed agreements on the healthy upbringing of children. The city is considering using colored film to cover roughly the middle third of the cover of each title designated as a harmful publication under a prefectural ordinance on the healthy upbringing of youths. It has set aside 390,000 yen to cover the cost of the film and related expenses.

The measure will be continued for about two months, after which the municipal government will ask stores about its effect on sales and how customers view it.

A similar measure has already been implemented in the Osaka Prefecture city of Sakai. In March last year the city reached an agreement with FamilyMart convenience stores on creating an environment in which minors are not exposed to harmful publications. At 12 stores (as of Feb. 13), such publications are covered with a 12-centimeter-wide green film.

However, not everyone is happy with the move. The Japan Magazine Publishers Association and the Japan Book Publishers Association in April last year responded with a statement that the restriction was excessive and hindered people's freedom to choose publications.

Around the end of August last year, the Sakai Municipal Government reported that it had received 26 opinions in favor of the move, with such comments as "I had worried about this when I went to the convenience store with my children," and six against it, including the opinion, "I don't want tax revenue to be used (on this measure)."

A total of seven Olympic and Paralympic events are scheduled to be held at the Makuhari Messe venue in Chiba during the 2020 Games.

In a news conference on Feb. 13, Chiba Mayor Toshihito Kumagai commented, "It's a conflict between the freedom of expression and choice, and the healthy upbringing of youths. I'd like to decide whether to go full steam ahead with the measure based on the opinions of residents and users.

A representative of the Japan Magazine Publishers Association told the Mainichi, "We'd like to consider a response after hearing details from a Chiba Municipal Government representative."

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