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The ruling bloc has agreed to lower the age at which juvenile offenders become eligible for criminal punishment from 16 to 14 in its proposal to revise the Juvenile Law, party sources said.

The age issue has long been debated in the Diet and among judicial circles amid growing concern over the recent rise in serious crimes being committed by teenagers.

The Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and New Conservative Party plan to submit a bill on the proposal to the Diet in late September, when an extraordinary session is to convene. The bill is expected to pass, the sources said Tuesday.

The coalition will soon set up a joint team to consider the revisions, they added.

New Komeito had been opposed to lowering the age threshold, saying toughening the law would go against its spirit, which is designed to correct the behavior of young offenders rather than punish them as adults.

But with the recent spate of felonies committed by youths, the leaders of New Komeito concluded that the ruling coalition needs to “formalize its message” by introducing the revisions, the sources said.

New Komeito has come up with a proposal that criminal punishment be applied to those younger than 16, but “only for felonies that involve human lives,” effectively approving a plan by the LDP and NCP to cut the age to 14.

New Komeito’s judicial committee was expected to meet Wednesday to gain consensus within the party.

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