Tokyo: In a first since 1867, Japan on Friday lowered the legal age of adulthood to 18 from 20, meaning 18-year-olds are eligible to apply for credit cards and loans without the need for parental consent.
The lowering of Japan’s legal age of adulthood comes as the revision of the country’s Civil Code took effect on Friday, reports Xinhua news agency.
Other new laws include the legal age for marriage for females has been raised from 16 to 18, which is the same as the legal age males can marry.
As for drinking alcohol, smoking and gambling in public, the legal age to participate will be kept at 20.
Japan lowering its legal age of adulthood marks the first since since 1876 when it was set.
The move to lower the legal age of adulthood is a direct response to Japan’s rapidly aging and shrinking population, which as well as causing ballooning social welfare costs has led to a hollowing out of the country’s workforce.
The Japanese government believes that by lowering the legal age of adulthood, 18 and 19-year-olds will be encouraged to start work and become part of the nation’s labour force and help reverse the effects of the nation’s hollowed out workforce and help revitalise a stagnant economy.
Separately on Friday, the country’s amended juvenile act also came into effect, meaning that henceforth, offenders aged 18 and 19 will continue to be protected under the juvenile act and not subjected to criminal laws.
However, under the amended juvenile act, they will be treated differently from adults and those aged 17 and younger.
In contrast to the past, the amended juvenile act also allows media outlets to report names and other information that can identify individuals who have been indicted.