Saturday, October 22, 2016

Is 18 the New 20?

The definition of adult in Japan has been 20 since it was set as the age of majority in 1876 by Decrees of the Cabinet, but this year the voting age was changed to 18.   In July, for the first time, 18 and 19 year olds were able to vote in Japan.  

According to recent articles in the Japan Times and Mainichi Japan, the Japanese government is considering a revision to the Civil Code to lower the age of majority from 20 to 18 allowing teens to make more of their own legal decisions without parental consent. About 200 laws which have age provisions would be affected. If enacted, there may be a three year grace period to allow the public to become aquainted with the new laws. 

Some laws that could be revised include:

The Nationality Law, which requires a child of a Japanese parent and a foreign parent to  declare citizenship under one of the countries before age 22. The revision would allow 18 and 19 year olds to declare without parental consent and the deadline for declaring at age 20.  

Age to marry, which is currently 18 or 19 for males and 16-19 for females with parental consent.  This could be changed to 18 for both genders without parental consent.  

Horse Racing Act, which currently prohibits the purchase of betting tickets by minors, could change to allow 18 and 19 year olds to gamble. 

Other laws such as those involving alcohol and tobacco, may remain at age 20 and not be lowered to 18.  

What are the laws in your country? How old must one be to purchase alcohol or vote or marry?


  1. Hi Pamela,i find it very interesting the differences between the countries.thankyou for sharing .

  2. In Sweden Coming Of Age is at 18. The law changed from 20 to 18 when I was 19, so I and my classmates thought we had been cheated!

  3. Here in OZ you can vote at 18, start to learn to drive at 16, but not be fully liscenced until 21, buy alcohol at 18 and marry at 18, or 16 yrs if the other partner is 18. Interesting how different things are.

  4. USA...18 to vote. 18 to marry. 21 to buy alcohol. IMHO, the youth of today are far less mature that my generation was at the same age. How mature..generally...are 18 year old people in Japan?
    xx, Carol