EducationAdulthood Age in Japan

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Adulthood Age in Japan

Introduction

On 1st April 2022, the age of adulthood was reduced to 18 from 20 by the Japanese government hence amending Article IV of the Civil code. In the Meiji constitution of 1876, the adulthood age was 20. According to Mainichi newspaper, the amendment will revise 22 age-related laws. It’s a significant development and has implications for the generation coming of age in Japan.

Coming of Age Day

Coming of Age day or Seijin Shiki is considered to be a significant day for the youth in Japanese culture.  The 2nd Monday of New Year’s January is coming of Age day which is a national holiday in Japan. The local governments invite adults to welcome them into the new phase of life. The day is usually celebrated in halls of the schools or at concert halls. The participants wear traditional Kimono dress..

Why government decided to change the adulthood law

The Government of Japan aims at enhancing the role of the young generation in the development of the country. It is for this very reason that the Government decided to lower the adulthood age.

Implication after coming of age

The amendment will have many important implications for adults such as

  • Through an amendment to the Civil Code, the age of marriage for Women has been enhanced from 16 to 18. While men had 18 years. Thus 18 is the number for both Women and Men to get married if they want. Click to learn more.
  • The amendment allowed 18 years old to vote. All those that reach adulthood age will be able to vote from 2022 onwards. However, to contest for becoming a member of the House of Representatives, one must attain the age of 25. While for making it to the House of Councilors one must be 30 years old.
  • After the enactment of the new law, young people have the freedom to sign loan agreements when buying expensive commodities like buying cars, bikes, etc.
  • The crime rates for people under 18 had increased alarmingly in the country. This new law brings the delinquent under the radar of the Government. As previously fewer than 18 were protected by the constitution even if they committed crimes. Thus all those aged 18 and above perpetrators will be considered criminals. Their photos will be taken and pictures displayed by the Security authorities and in public media.
  • The adults are not given full freedom. There are certain restrictions imposed like the prohibition of smoking, drinking, and gambling for those under the age of 20. As these social ills can affect the mental and physical health of young people.

Before the law, there have been a lot of discussions on the proposed amendments. Political and Economic reasons were said to be the forerunner for the new amendment to the Civil Code of Japan besides other reasons.

Political impliation

The young people in Japan are not much bothered by Politics. It was in 2014 that the vote-casting age was lowered to 18 but it didn’t increase the voters’ turnout in the election as was expected. The turnout was 56 percent which is not significant given the education ratio and awareness campaign conducted. Following the Liberal Democratic party victory, which has ruled almost continuously since 1953, the cabinet Secretary of Japan Mr. Matsuno Hirokazu stated that voter turnout needs to be enhanced significantly, especially among the young population. Thus lowering the age didn’t have a desirable impact.

Economic implecation

With the new amendments, more people will be working. Attaining adulthood means the young lot will be independent in making work contracts with companies. They will not be dependent on their parents for meeting financial obligations. But the equation is not that simple. Japan has a high life expectancy and low birth rates. More aged people means less contribution toward GDP and more burden on the National exchequer. The declining birthrate is attributed to socioeconomic factors. Many of the Japanese don’t marry, marry later or opt to have fewer children. The reasons may include gender inequality, less provision for childcare, and insufficient daycare centers. It is a good initiative to lower the adulthood age but it doesn’t guarantee economic progress. Until and unless the Economic structure, economic security, and cultural attitudes are addressed adequately.

This decision of the Japanese government could have many implications including positive and negative. But only time will tell if the decision was well taken or otherwise

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