Japan looks set to join the global push to end child marriage. It is time for Japan to do much more to help end child marriage not only at home, but around the world.
A proposed revision of the Civil Code would set the minimum marriage age at 18 for both females and males. At present, people must be at least 20 to marry without parental permission; with parental permission males can marry at 18 and females as young as 16. The government-proposed amendment would take effect in 2022.
This step is long overdue. Two decades ago, the Justice Ministry's Legislative Council proposed an updated Civil Code that set the marriage age at 18 for everyone, but it was not adopted. Different marriage ages for females and males are discriminatory and go against Japan's international human rights obligations. And child marriage — under age 18 — is a global epidemic with devastating consequences for girls and their families.