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Japan enacts law to lower adulthood age to 18

In this Jan. 8, 2018 file photo, young women take commemorative photos at a coming of age ceremony in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Diet on Wednesday enacted a law to revise the Civil Code and lower the age of adulthood to 18 from 20, with the aim of spurring social participation by youth in rapidly aging Japan.

    The revised Civil Code, which will take effect in April 2022, will change the definition of an adult, enabling 18- and 19-year-olds to marry without parental consent.

    Males aged 18 and older and females aged 16 and older in Japan can currently marry, but parental consent is required for people under 20. The revision will also lift the legal age of marriage for women to 18.

    In line with the lowering of the adulthood age, revisions will be made to 22 related laws including those on nationality and passports, but people under 20 will still be prohibited from drinking alcohol, smoking and gambling.

    A Civil Code clause that allows the cancellation of contracts concluded by minors without the consent of parents or legal representatives no longer applies to 18- and 19-year-olds. The Diet enacted on Friday a revised consumer contract law to protect young consumers deemed more vulnerable to fraud.

    The revision allows a contract cancellation if a seller exerts undue pressure or influence on a consumer to enter into a transaction.

    Opposition lawmakers had opposed the Civil Code revision, citing a lack of discussions and insufficient measures to protect consumers.

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