Japan to change age of adulthood for the first time since the Meiji Era of the late 1800s

japan age 18
Image: Martijn Baudoin/Unsplash
  • Starting April 1, Japan will lower its legal adult age from 20 to 18.
  • The change will upend over 140 years of civil code, soon giving 18- and 19-year-olds the rights and responsibilities that come with legal adulthood.
  • Those 18 years and older will no longer need parental consent to sign up for credit cards, loans and apartment leases. They will also be able to make important life decisions on their own, including those of work, place of living and marriage.
  • Stricter punishments will also be applied to 18- and 19-year-olds for criminal offenses, as they will no longer be considered minors. News and media outlets will also be able to report their names publicly.
  • The motive behind the change in civil code lies in the notion that people should participate in society sooner, against the backdrop of Japan’s low birth rates.

On April 1, Japan will change its legal definition of an adult from those who are at least 20 years old to those who are 18 years old and older.

The change will upend over 140 years of civil code dating back to the Imperial Meiji period of the late 1800s. 

The new code will give those who are 18 and over the rights and responsibilities that come with being a legal adult. They will no longer need parental consent to enter into contracts, such as signing up for credit cards, loans and apartment leases, and will also have the freedom to make life decisions regarding their studies, work, place of living and marriage. 

Advertisement

Stricter punishments will also be applied to 18- and 19-year-olds for criminal offenses, as they will no longer be considered minors. News and media outlets will also be able to report their names publicly for offenses. Currently, homicide is the only charge that minors can be criminally prosecuted for.

Laws involving identification cards, passports and jury duty will also be affected by the change, but the rules for alcohol, tobacco and gambling will continue to prohibit participation until age 20, to promote healthy living. 

The motive behind the change in civil code involves the notion that people should participate in society sooner, against the backdrop of Japan’s low birth rates. The voting age was decreased to 18 in 2016, and the civil code revision seeks to further engagement among 18- and 19-year-olds. 

Advertisement

The change also comes amid discussions of whether the Japanese Juvenile Law is too lenient. In 2021, the Juvenile Code was amended to categorize 18- and 19-year-olds as “specified juveniles” who were given harsher punishments for breaking the law than those under 18. The change to the legal age will reinforce and increase these penalties. 

 

Total
16
Shares
Related Posts
x
Advertisement