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Justice Ministry pondering raising minimum marriage age for women

The Justice Ministry is considering raising the minimum legal marriage age for women from 16 to 18 at the same time as it seeks to drop the age of adulthood from 20 to 18, it has been learned.

    "We need to consider the matter along with the proposed lowering of the age of majority under the Civil Code," Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda told a news conference after a regular Cabinet meeting on Sept. 2.

    The Justice Ministry is poised to submit a bill to revise the Civil Code to lower the age of adulthood to the Diet during a regular session next year. The ministry is also considering incorporating a clause to raise the legal marriage age for women in the bill.

    Articles 731 and 737 of the Civil Code stipulate that the minimum legal age for marriage for minors is 16 for women and 18 for men, provided that they obtain parental consent. The difference in the minimum legal age for marriage is due to the widely accepted theory that women tend to become physically mature earlier than men.

    In 1996, the Legislative Council presented the justice minister with an outline of a bill to revise the Civil Code to raise the legal marriage age for women to 18 from the viewpoint of gender equality. However, the revisions never made it into law.

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