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In an effort to cope with Japan’s rapidly aging society, the Justice Ministry’s Legislative Council has mapped out a new legal framework to protect the assets of legally incompetent adults, the council announced Tuesday.

The new set of revisions to the Civil Code would add measures for those suffering from a slight degree of senile dementia as well as the mentally disabled, council officials said.

One of the key elements of the proposed revisions allows for a new system that would enable people to appoint their own guardians prior to impairment of their decision-making abilities.

The Justice Ministry plans to submit the proposals to the Diet in March and hopes to introduce the new legal framework in April next year, when the new public nursing system for the elderly takes effect.

The revisions would be the first to the guardian system since it went into effect in 1898, the officials said.

According to the blueprint for the proposals, a new registry system will be established to replace a current practice in which adults declared legally incompetent are designated as such in their family registry. The practice is believed to discourage people from using the system.

The newly proposed system also accepts the legality of wills either written or drafted via sign language by those with hearing disabilities or speech impediments.

The framework’s principles will include, in addition to the conventional “protection” of the incompetent, “respect for (their) decisions,” the officials said.

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