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What rights do Japanese people have at 18?


Turning 18 is a significant milestone in anyone’s life as it marks the beginning of adulthood. In Japan, this age is particularly important because it comes with several legal rights and responsibilities. In this article, we will explore the different rights that Japanese people have when they turn 18.

The Right to Vote

When Japanese citizens turn 18, they gain the right to vote in national and local elections. This right was granted in 2015, and since then, many young adults have participated in the country’s democratic process. The voting age was lowered from 20 to 18 to encourage more young people to engage in politics and make their voices heard.

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The Right to Drive

Japanese citizens can apply for a driver’s license when they turn 18. However, the process can be quite challenging, as it requires passing a written and practical exam. Nevertheless, having a driver’s license is a significant step towards independence and mobility for many young adults.

The Right to Work

At 18, Japanese citizens are legally allowed to work without restrictions, which means they can take on full-time jobs or start their own businesses. However, the minimum wage for workers under 20 is lower than that of older workers to encourage employers to hire younger employees.

The Right to Sign Contracts

When Japanese citizens reach 18, they can sign contracts without needing their parents’ consent. This means they can enter into rental agreements, purchase goods on credit, or take out loans independently.

The Right to Get Married

In Japan, the minimum age for marriage is 18 for both men and women. However, those who are younger than 20 need parental consent to marry legally. Nevertheless, turning 18 marks an important milestone for those who wish to tie the knot and start their own families.

The Right to Sue and be Sued

At 18, Japanese citizens can sue others or be sued in court. This means they can seek legal remedies if they feel their rights have been violated or if they want to hold someone accountable for their actions.

The Right to Drink Alcohol

In Japan, the legal drinking age is 20 years old. Therefore, at 18 years old, Japanese citizens cannot buy or drink alcohol legally. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions; for example, those who are serving in the military or working in certain industries may be allowed to drink alcohol before they turn 20.

The Right to Smoke Tobacco

In Japan, smoking is legal and widespread. However, the legal smoking age is also 20 years old. At 18 years old, Japanese citizens cannot buy or smoke tobacco legally.

The Right to Join the Military

Japanese citizens can join the military at age 18; however, there are strict requirements and physical fitness tests that must be passed before being accepted into service. Joining the military at this age can be an excellent opportunity for those who wish to serve their country and gain valuable skills and experience.

The Right to Travel Abroad

At 18 years old, Japanese citizens can obtain a passport and travel abroad without needing parental consent. This opens up a world of opportunities for young adults who wish to explore new cultures and gain international experience.

The Responsibility of Paying Taxes

Japanese citizens who earn an income must pay taxes on their earnings regardless of age. Therefore, turning 18 marks an essential milestone because it comes with the responsibility of paying taxes like any other adult citizen.

The Responsibility of Jury Duty

At age 20 in Japan, citizens become eligible for jury duty; however, this responsibility is not limited to those over 20 years old only. Those aged between 18-69 years old may also be called upon as lay judges in certain cases where judges want assistance from members of society with diverse backgrounds.


In conclusion, turning 18 marks an important milestone in any person’s life because it comes with several legal rights and responsibilities in Japan. From voting and driving to working and traveling abroad independently, young adults have many opportunities to shape their futures and contribute positively to society from this age onwards.

What happens when you turn 18 in Japan?

Starting in April, individuals who are 18 and 19 years old in Japan will be considered legal adults and will have more decision-making authority without parental approval, although they will still face legal consequences for breaking the law, as amendments to the Civil Code and Juvenile Law are expected.

Is 18 still a minor in Japan?

According to the Japanese Penal Code, individuals who are under 14 years old cannot be held criminal responsible for their actions. However, in accordance with the Juvenile Law of Japan, anyone under the age of 20 is considered a “juvenile” (shonen).

Can 18 year olds drink in Japan?

In Japan, individuals are considered legal adults when they reach the age of 20. Drinking or smoking is prohibited for those under this age, and it is important to note that it is never appropriate to pressure anyone, of any age, to consume these substances as it can have negative effects on their health and social standing.

Can a 18 year old live alone in Japan?

Starting from April 1st, 2022, individuals must be at least 18 years old to rent a property and those under the age of 18 must have parental consent. Additionally, various documents must be provided to demonstrate financial capability to pay rent.

What is the legal dating age in Japan?

The age of consent in Japan is set at 13 by the Penal Code established in 1907. Any sexual activity with a person who is younger than 13 is considered illegal and can lead to a prison sentence of up to 20 years for statutory rape.

What age can a girl get married in Japan?

According to the Japanese Civil Code, the minimum age for marriage is 18 for males and 16 for females. Without parental approval, anyone under the age of 20 cannot legally get married in Japan. However, starting in 2022, the legal age for both genders will be raised to 18.

The Importance of Education

Although not a legal right or responsibility, turning 18 also marks the end of compulsory education in Japan. Many young adults choose to continue their education by attending universities or vocational schools to gain further knowledge and skills that will help them in their future careers. In Japan, education is highly valued, and many job opportunities require a higher level of education beyond high school.

The Importance of Community Service

Another responsibility that comes with adulthood in Japan is the importance of community service. Many young adults participate in volunteer activities, such as cleaning up their neighborhoods or helping out at local events. This sense of community spirit is ingrained in Japanese culture and helps to foster a strong sense of social responsibility among its citizens.

The Impact of Technology

In recent years, technology has played an increasingly important role in the lives of young adults in Japan. Social media platforms and mobile devices have become ubiquitous, allowing young people to connect with each other and the world around them more easily. However, this also means that they must be mindful of the impact that technology can have on their mental health and well-being.

The Challenges of Adulthood

Turning 18 also comes with its own set of challenges. Young adults may face difficulties adjusting to the increased responsibilities that come with adulthood, such as managing finances and making important life decisions. Additionally, they may experience pressure from their families and society to conform to certain expectations regarding marriage, career choices, and other aspects of adult life.

The Importance of Self-Care

As young adults navigate the challenges of adulthood, it’s essential that they prioritize self-care to maintain their physical and mental health. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and seeking support from friends and family when needed. By taking care of themselves, young adults can better face the challenges and responsibilities that come with turning 18.

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