National / Crime & Legal

Japan aims to lower age of adulthood to 18 by 2022

JIJI

The government has decided to introduce legislation toward lowering the legal age of adulthood from 20 to 18 when the Diet opens in January. It is also slated to remove a clause in the Imperial House Law that sets the emperor’s age of majority at 18, and submit 24 bills also related to revising the Civil Code, informed sources said.

The Imperial House Law stipulates that the age of adulthood for the emperor and crown prince is 18. Once the ages of majority in the Imperial House Law and Civil Code match, there will be no need for the Imperial version, people familiar with the matter said.

If the bills become law next year, they are expected to take effect as early as 2022. This would let those who are 18 and 19 but financially independent to sign lease contracts and buy cars without parental consent.

Since consumer scams targeting these young adults are expected to climb, the government plans to amend the consumer contract law and include a clause allowing consumers to cancel contracts that are signed without rational decisions.

Even after the lower age is put into the Commercial Code, however, the government plans to maintain the legal age for drinking, smoking and gambling unchanged at 20 due to concern about health and addiction risks.

When the age of adulthood becomes 18, the government will ease the age requirement for certified accountants and medical practitioners without changing the clauses of relevant laws saying licenses for those professions should not be given to minors.

Given that the government has yet to reach a conclusion on whether to apply the lower age to the juvenile law, it plans to continue discussions at the Legislative Council, which advises the justice minister.

The government originally planned to propose the Civil Code amendments during the extraordinary Diet session in autumn, but the plan was canceled after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, dogged by scandals, dissolved the House of Representatives for a general election as soon as the extra sessions began.