December 4, 2023

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Adulthood in Japan


Adulthood is a time of transition. It is when you start to take on responsibilities and make decisions on your own. The age of adulthood is the time in a person’s life when they are considered an adult, as defined by one or more legal systems. 

The age of majority (or the age of maturity) is the minimum age at which a person legally becomes an adult. The legal age of adulthood varies globally, but it is 18 years old in most developed nations. Here we will discuss the legal age of adulthood in Japan, how it changed over time, and why it’s different from other countries.

Adulthood in Japan

The age of adulthood currently in Japan is 18 years old. It was reviewed and lowered from age 20 to 18 on April 1, 2022. This means that under Japanese law, people become adults at this age and can do a lot more than minors who are not considered adults until they turn 18. It also means when you turn 18, you get to exercise your rights and responsibilities as an adult. You can vote, you can work, and earn money without parental consent, and you have more legal protection than children under the age of 18. 

In the culture of Japan, reaching the age of adulthood is a significant milestone in one’s life. It is not only defined by an age limit but also by a series of rituals. These include wearing distinctive robes for boys and girls. It is an important process that helps mark an individual’s passage into adulthood. This can be traced back to ancient times when young people started their lives as apprentices or servants and lived with their masters until they became independent adults.

Change of Age of Adulthood in Japan

The age of majority has been constant for a very long time in Japan. As the country faces an aging population, some have argued that this legal milestone is artificially holding back young people from entering the workforce and committing to certain responsibilities. The Civil Code was updated after the original 20-year-old legal age was established in 1876. Citizens of Japan experienced another milestone regarding the legal age of the majority on April 1, 2022. As the age of majority was lowered from 20 to 18 years. 

On that day, about two million Japanese citizens who are 18 or 19 years old reached legal adulthood. This is the first time in more than 140 years that the age has been altered. The change’s implementation is noteworthy in a variety of ways. One of the most remarkable moments in a person’s life in Japan is the ceremony commemorating the beginning of adulthood. Only 20-year-olds had up until now participated in the festivities.


What do the adjustments mean? Look at it now.


  • Voting During Elections.
  • Without a parent’s permission, an adult at the age of 18 can now enter into a contract. Examples? contracting for work, leasing an apartment, committing to a cell phone plan, or requesting a credit card.
  • They can be chosen to serve on a jury.
  • Can apply for a passport.
  • Can register for state-level exams for professions like accounting, accounting, and so forth.
  • Engage in matrimony. Previously, parental consent was required until the age of 20, but now, if you are 18 or older, you do not need it. 


The Legal Drinking Age

The legal drinking age in Japan is 20. Any merchant who deals in alcoholic drinks would face penalties if he or she sells or delivers alcohol to a person under the age of 20, or sells alcohol with the knowledge that a minor would consume it. 

So, while the age of the majority is lowered, those who are 18 or 19 will be considered adults and be able to perform several tasks. However, the legal drinking and smoking age remains at age 20. This is a result of consideration of health implications and prevention hence, the age restriction is maintained. Other activities such as smoking, enrolling in the national pension plan and public gambling are all still for 20-year-old adults.


Being declared a minor until you reach the age of 20 has been considered by Japanese youths as extremely limiting and constraining for many reasons. However, there are strict consequences for breaking some of these rules.