Friday, July 31, 2009

Age of Majority in Japan

"A subcommittee of the Justice Ministry's Legislative Council has recommended that the legal age of adulthood in Japan be lowered from 20 to 18.

"The subcommittee concluded in a final recommendation on Wednesday that it was appropriate to lower the age to 18, adding that it was also desirable to lower the voting age to 18 through a revision to the Public Offices Election Law.

"It also recommended that the legal minimum age for marriage -- currently 18 for males and 16 for females -- should be aligned at 18 for both males and females.

"The advisory panel pointed out the need for considerations in line with the change, including enhancing measures to counter a feared rise in young people falling victim to consumer-related problems. It avoided proposing a date for the change, saying the issue should be left up to the Diet.

"If the Civil Code is revised to lower the age of adulthood, it will affect 191 other laws that make reference to age, including the Public Offices Election Law and the Juvenile Law, and a revision could greatly affect the lives of the public.

"The subcommittee's report said that lowering the legal age of adulthood would allow young people to participate in society at an earlier stage, and give them heightened awareness as adults. It added that such a revision would be significant in that it would legally enable 18- and 19-year-olds to make decisions about using money themselves, and expressed hope that treatment of such young people as adults would enliven them and society.

"At the same time, the subcommittee judged that it was necessary to introduce measures to encourage young people to become independent, as there remained fears of consumer damage sparked by expensive credit card contracts and pyramid sales, and concerns that young people who found it difficult to become independent would become impoverished. The panel made reference to the establishment of a consumer agency, the revision of school curriculum guidelines to include consumer education, and this month's passing of a law to support the upbringing of children and youths, which includes support measures for NEETs -- people not in employment, education or training -- and for youths who have withdrawn from society. It said that the Civil Code should be revised once such measures have filtered through society, and concluded, "It is the Diet that can make an appropriate decision" on the timing of the change.

"The national referendum law states that in principle the age for voting is 18 and above. Additional clauses of the law say lowering the age of adulthood in the Civil Code and Public Offices Election Law should be held in consideration until 2010, and that the voting age be kept at 20 until legal measures are in place."

By Mainichi Shimbun (7/30/2009), Link to article (last visited 7/31/2009)