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Bill to lower age of adulthood set for submission to Diet in fall

Kyodo

New Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa said Friday that the ministry is considering submitting a bill to lower Japan’s legal age of adulthood from 20 to 18 in the extraordinary Diet session likely be convened this fall.

“I will strive with all my power to submit it as early as possible,” Kamikawa said at a news conference after a Cabinet meeting.

If enacted, the bill would change the definition of adulthood for the first time since Japan’s civil code was drawn up in the late 19th century, during the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

The bill is also likely to include an amendment making the marriageable age 18 for both men and women. The current minimum male age is 18 and the minimum female age 16 with parental consent.

The Justice Ministry had planned to submit the bill to the ordinary session that ended on June 18, but in the end it was postponed.

The current law allows parents or guardians to unilaterally break unfair contracts entered into by people under 20, so the ministry is also considering ways to protect 18- and 19-year-olds from being targeted by scammers after the change.