Social Issues

Japan lowers age of adulthood to 18

Tokyo, Apr 1 (EFE).- The age of adulthood in Japan on Friday was lowered from 20 to 18 years in the first revision of the legal definition of an adult in the country in 146 years.

The change will mainly affect matters pertaining to parental emancipation and criminal responsibility.

The lowering of the age of adulthood in the Civil Code entails the revision of laws related to the issuance of passports, the power to sign contracts and jury duty, among others.

Some critics of the revision have expressed concern that young people could become an easy target for fraudsters due to the removal of parental consent clauses from contracts.

Despite the general revision of the age of adulthood, the purchase and consumption of alcohol and tobacco, as well as gambling, will continue to be prohibited for those under 20 years of age.

The legislative revision also raises the minimum age of marriage for women to 18.

Until now, the legal age of marriage in Japan was 18 for men and 16 for women, although those under 20 will still need parental consent to marry.

The lowering of the adulthood age will also affect the criminal liability of 18- and 19-year-old offenders under the Juvenile Law, which has been revised to expand the crimes for which they can be tried as adults.

Until now, homicide was the only criminal charge for which minors could be prosecuted but the legal amendment will add all crimes punishable by at least one year in prison, such as robbery or rape, to the list.

Media coverage of such cases will also be relaxed, allowing the full names of the offenders to be published.

The Japanese imperial government set the age of adulthood at 20 years in 1876 and it was later enacted by the Civil Code in 1896.

In May 2007, Japan began proceedings to amend the Constitution with the aim of lowering the minimum voting age and the legal age of adulthood.

The minimum voting age was lowered to 18 in an amendment to the public election law in June 2016. EFE


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