View Full Version : Coming-of-age in Japan

Jul 21, 2002, 13:28
I was wondering what was the legal age to be considered as an adult in Japan. In most Western countries it's 18.

The coming-of-age ceremony 成人式 (seijinshiki) is at 20. It's also the legal age for drinking and smoking.

However, I have been told that the legal age to have a driving licence is 18, like in Europe (and unlike America). It seems that you can also have a passport and travel alone at 18, not 20.

What's the legal age to sign documents, contracts, etc. without a tutor ?

The term "coming-of-age" is confusing. For me it means be able to sign alone and take full responsibility of one's acts, be able to drive, travel abroad alone, or be independant from my parents. It doesn't mean to drink or smoke as there is no legal age for this in some European countries (eg Belgium) and in others its much earlier than 18 (can't imagine a party without a minimum of alcohol even when you are 14 or 16).

So, I don't understand why Japanese people insist that they become adult (seijin) at 20 and not 18 if they are legally independant (to sign, contract, drive, travel on their own, etc.).

Can anybody give me more information about this ?

Jul 21, 2002, 17:13
Probably it's the typical "legality vs. tradition" thing. Anyhow, if I'm not completely wrong Japanese acquire their legal capacity with 20 years (smoking, drinking, voting etc.).

Jul 22, 2002, 21:11
In places like Europe where there is no drinking age kids generally don't go wild over alcohol. But bring some kids in the army over to those places and they get drunk like its their last time drinking or something, then the Europeans look at them like "what the heck?" because they're so used to being able to take a sip whenever they want to. I think age limits like that create problems like that in some cases because people want to do it when they're not supposed to. But if you're allowed to, what's the big deal?
Score for Mavurik

Jul 22, 2002, 22:02
As posted above 20 is the age to be. But typical situations don't follow the law in any form what so ever. Remember society rules are the laws will the laws are to be used when society rules are broken.

minors buy beer from vending machines. 15 year olds drink in bars.

Sex and marriage is anything that's not wearing a school uniform, ie is over 16 and not in high school. Although, the sex part isn't really enforced marriage tends to be since you have to go through the city hall.

Sexual based establishments are pretty good normally about not using minors since police do sometimes run raids though, unless you're payed up and the yakuza will inform you of your appointment.

Everything else is either straight cash or never.

However renting an apartment is never. You will always need a co-signer to guarantee that you'll do your duty. sorry even 90 year olds need one. No family, no guarantor = tough luck