• Kyodo News


New adults attended ceremonies and other festive events Monday to fete Coming-of-Age Day as the government reported that the number of people who turned 20 last year fell by about 30,000 to just 1.24 million, setting a new record low.

According to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, the approximately 630,000 men and 610,000 women who had turned 20 — the legal age for adulthood — as of Jan. 1, reset the record low for a fourth consecutive year.

The new adults were born in 1990, a time when the bubble economy was about to implode and Iraq invaded Kuwait to set the stage for the 1991 Gulf War.

The number is about half the peak of around 2.46 million seen in 1970 and now accounts for 0.97 percent of the population — the first time it has dropped below 1 percent since the government began tracking the statistic in 1968.

At Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, the annual ceremony for new local adults was attended by about 1,100 — or 74 percent of the city’s new adults.

“My dream is to be a teacher at a junior high school. So I hope to study sign language and Braille this year,” said Miki Takahashi, 20, who chaired the organizing committee for the gathering.

Festivities in Yamaguchi and Okinawa prefectures, meanwhile, got out of hand as three new adults and one on the verge were arrested. One was nabbed for carrying a fake sword, another for drunken driving and driving without a license.

At Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, a 19-year-old boy was arrested for brandishing a 70-cm fake sword at a local ceremony. He took part in the event because he was in the same academic year as those who had turned 20, which in his region allows him to attend.

He was wearing the traditional “haori” jacket and “hakama” trousers as well, which he believed demanded accessorizing with his fake sword.

“Wearing haori and hakama, I thought I needed to hold a sword,” the youth, whose name is being withheld, was quoted as telling the police.

In Urasoe in Okinawa, Kazuyuki Tanahara, 20, was arrested for allegedly driving while intoxicated and without a license.

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