TOKYO, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Two of Japan's largest convenience stores will cease stocking adult magazines as they look to clean up their image ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup and next year's Tokyo Olympics.
7-Eleven Japan Co. confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday that they would stop selling adult magazines nationwide by the end of August. Kyodo News reported that Lawson Inc., another major chain, would follow suit.
A spokesman for 7-Eleven said the change had also come about as the demographic of shoppers at their stores altered.
"In the past, 7-Eleven was mostly used by male customers to buy beverages and fast food, and our product assortment was designed accordingly," the chain said in an email to Reuters.
"However, as the role and usage of 7-Eleven stores has changed in recent years, 7-Eleven became an important shopping destination for families, children and elder people as well.
"In order to create a proper shopping environment for all our customers, we decided to stop handling sales of adult magazines.
"We also considered the increasing number of foreign customers during the upcoming Rugby World Cup and the Olympics," they added.
24-hour convenience stores are ubiquitous in Japan, selling everything from coffee, alcohol, frozen meals and even spare work shirts.
Magazine racks are usually close to the front of the store and are not covered. Adult magazines are usually mixed in with those of other genres.
There are approximately 20,000 7-Eleven stores across Japan, and a further 14,000 Lawsons, according to Kyodo.
Japan will be in the global spotlight over the next two years as they host the Rugby World Cup, which kicks off in September, followed by the Summer Olympics starting in July 2020.
Veterinarian Taishiro Iwaya, who was standing outside one Lawson store with his wife Fuki, said he understood the need for change before Tokyo 2020.
"Seeing news about stopping selling porn magazines at convenience stores, I got to know that Japan is the only developed country allowing to sell such porn magazines at stores in public," he said.
"Now, I think it is natural to adjust to international standards before the Olympics in 2020."
However, his wife was left a little concerned about the possible ramifications of the decision.
"I think it is ok that a man's desire is fulfilled by seeing such things," she said.
"I am worried that such desire may trigger men to become criminals if stores stop selling (those) magazines."
Convenience stores are highly popular, with Kyodo reporting on Monday that total spending in the seven major chains topped 10.96 trillion yen ($100.13 billion) in 2018 with 1.34 billion visitors nationwide in December alone.
$1 = 109.4600 yen Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by John O'Brien