Japan lowering age of adulthood to from age 20 to 18 in 2022: Also means Japan’s dual nationals now must declare by age 20, not 22.


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Hi Blog. In mid-April the Japanese Government did something rather landmark: For the first time in more than a century, it passed a bill lowering the age of adulthood by two years; meaning that by April 2022, people fresh out of high school (or some who haven’t graduated yet) can now vote and apply for credit cards/loans (although still they cannot drink, smoke or gamble; that permission stays the same at age 20). It also means that the criminals classified as “juvenile offenders” (with more lenient penalties) can now be tried as adults, and that both men and women can now equally marry at age 18.

More in the Japan Times at

Where this matters to Debito.org is how Japan’s international citizens are to be treated. Before, legally Japanese with two citizenships (e.g., Japanese children of international marriages) would have to choose one (since Japan does not permit dual nationality) at age twenty, with a two-year grace period. Now that requirement has likewise been shifted down to 18 with a grace period up to age 20.

For those who are facing that choice, Debito.org, in its HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS, recommends that dual nationals declare their citizenship as “Japanese” and keep quietly renewing their non-Japanese passport. There is no way for the Japanese Government to force you to surrender your foreign passport (as it is the property of the foreign government), or to get information on your citizenship status from foreign governments.  Be advised. Nothing has changed in this regard except that youths have to make an identity choice at a more youthful age.

Speaking of that quiet option to choose both citizenships, let me steer Debito.org readers to an insightful Japan Times feature that came out a few months ago, including interviews of Japan’s international children and their reactions and strategies.

Dr. Debito Arudou


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4 comments on “Japan lowering age of adulthood to from age 20 to 18 in 2022: Also means Japan’s dual nationals now must declare by age 20, not 22.

  • Andrew in Saitama says:

    I still think the idea of being an adult but without the adult rights is a joke.
    And lowering the age at which one has to choose a nationality?

    As someone said, the whole thing reeks of the LDP desperately trying to get votes from kids conditioned to vote LDP.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    I think lowering the age of adulthood has more to do with military service age in a ‘regular’ military rather than as public servants in a self defense force. I could be wrong. Get ready for national service?

    • Andrew in Saitama says:

      Jim, the government wouldn’t need to lower the age of majority to do that. My own country used to do national service for males aged 18 back when the age of adulthood was 21

      I still think it is merely an easy way of gaining votes by conditioning kids through the education system to believe that only the LDP has the nation’s best interests at heart. Why else would they need to change textbook references to disputed territory as “Japanese territory unlawfully claimed/occupied by (insert nation here)”?

      • Jim Di Griz says:

        I’m only thinking that way because the Japanese military aren’t ‘soldiers’ like in other countries, but koumuin in Japan, and you can’t have ‘children’ working as government workers…


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