03/14/2018, 13.40

The Japanese will become adults at 18 in 2022

The amendment will allow 18- and 19-year-olds to get married and sign contracts on their own. However, they will still not be allowed to smoke, drink and gamble. For the Justice Minister, this will encourage the active social participation of young people.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Japanese government yesterday approved a bill to lower the adulthood age from 20 to 18, which would enable 18- and 19-year-olds to sign contracts and get married without the consent of their parents.

The planned amendment, which would come into effect in April 2022, changes the definition of adulthood under the Civil Code for the first time since it was enacted in the late 19th century.

The new notion will affect wide areas, including the acquisition of licenses, but a ban on drinking, smoking and gambling will remain in place for people aged 19 and below.

With respect to marriage, currently people under 20 can only get married with parental consent, from the age of 18 in the case of men and 16 for women.

The revision would lift the legal age of marriage for women to 18 so that both men and women aged 18 and older can get married without parental consent. For the government, there was no rational reason for the difference in this day and age.

Although 18- and 19-year-olds will become able to sign contracts on their own, to protect young consumers, the bill added clauses allowing cancellations of contracts concluded in "a state of confusion" when salespeople aroused anxiety or exploited romantic feelings in customers.

The legal change “holds great significance as it is part of a policy to promote active social participation of young people and raise their awareness" as adults, said Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa.

The Justice Ministry's Legislative Council is also examining whether to lower the age at which the juvenile law is applied to. The law stipulates different treatment of underage criminals or delinquents compared with adults.

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