Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Diet enacted Wednesday a bill to lower the adult age defined under the Civil Code to 18 from the current 20.
The bill to amend the law was approved by a majority vote at a plenary meeting of the House of Councillors with support from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito. It passed the House of Representatives in late May.
While lowering the adult age, the revised Civil Code lifts the legal age for marriage for women to 18 from the current 16 to equal that of men.
The legal age for drinking, smoking and betting in publicly managed gambling, such as horse and bicycle racing, will be kept at 20, due to concerns over possible addiction and health problems.
After a period for informing the public about the changes, the revised Civil Code will go into effect on April 1, 2022.
The amendment is intended to encourage more young people to get involved in society amid the aging of the country’s population.
The first change in the adult age since it was set at 20 in 1876 is expected to have a major impact on people’s lives.
For example, people aged 18 and 19 will be legally removed from the custody of their parents and be allowed to sign credit card and loan contracts and buy expensive goods without the consent of their parents. In addition, they will no longer be covered by a measure to enable the cancellation of contracts signed without parental consent.
Due to concerns that consumer issues involving young people may increase as a result of the adult age change, the government plans to step up countermeasures.
It has submitted to the Diet a bill to revise the consumer contracts law in order to allow unjust contracts, such as those concluded in so-called romance scams involving phony dating partners, to be canceled. The bill was enacted on Friday.
“I’d like to work on related tasks and do my best to make the amendment meaningful based on the full will of the people,” Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa told reporters.
Opposition parties have stood against the lowering of the adult age, saying that sufficient discussions have yet to be made.
The legal age will also be lowered to 18 for obtaining 10-year passports, for becoming qualified as doctors or certified accountants and for foreign citizens to acquire Japanese nationality.
On the idea of changing the coverage of protection under the juvenile law to people under 18 from those under 20, opinions still vary. The Legislative Council, which advises the justice minister, will continue discussions on the issue.Speech