Japan's giant convenience store brand FamilyMart has become the latest player in the country to remove pornographic magazines from its store shelves.

FamilyMart announced on January 22 that all of its shops would stop selling adult magazines for men by end-August this year, although there could be some possible exceptions.

The company's plan is expected to affect about 17,000 shops across the nation.

FamilyMart is not alone. Many of its domestic competitors have already removed or plan to get rid of such magazine from their stores.

This includes the country's largest convenience store operator Seven-Eleven and the third largest player Lawson.

At Seven-Eleven operates around 20,000 stores while Lawson having 14,000 branches in Japan.

Smaller players such as Secoma and Ministop also had stopped selling such magazines in April 2018 and December 2017.

Diversified customer base

FamilyMart cited an increasingly diversified customer base in recent years as a primary reason for the decision, adding demands for pornographic magazines mainly come from male customers.

Lawson shared a similar view. Its spokesperson Li Ming said the company also began to see more seniors, women and children shopping at its stores, according to The Japan Times.

Li added that since the company is also seeing a surge in the number of international travellers to the stores ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, displaying pornographic magazines restricted to those aged 18 or older in stores could have a negative impact on the image of Japan.

Some players have found the sales of such magazines are not that profitable. In Seven-Eleven's case, the sales of adult magazines accounted for less than 1 per cent of its total sales last year.

A blow to the magazine industry

A move by convenience store operators has sparked a concern among Japan's magazine publishers that it might have a negative impact on the whole industry in general, Nikkei reported.

Convenience stores have played one of the core distribution channels for magazine publishers, but now industry players worry about the possibility of them removing the entire section for the magazine, Nikkei noted.

Magazine industry in Japan has suffered from the decrease in sales as they gradually lose distribution channels.

One of the latest examples is kiosks at tube stations.

Tetsudou Kousakikai, an operator of kiosks at tube stations managed by East Japan Railway, announced last year that it planned to close about 1,000 kiosks amid financial losses and plummeted sales of magazines.

Sales of magazines in Japan dropped by 5.9 per cent in 2018 to 733 billion Japanese yen, marking a 19-year consecutive decrease.