On April 1, 2022, the Japanese Civil Code was partially amended to lower the age of majority from 20 to 18. At the same time as the revision of the age of majority, the age of marriage was also be changed from 18 for men and 16 for women to 18 for both men and women. The legal age of consent in Japan is 13 and it has not changed for more than 100 years. It is said that the age of consent should be changed from 13 to possibly 16 as well now that the age of marriage has changed to 18..
Legal age of marriage:
Marriage shall not be entered into until the person has reached the age of 18 years.
Proposed Amendment to the Civil Code (Legal Age of Marriage)
Prior to the amendment, the reason for the difference in the starting age of marriage between men and women was due to the difference in physical and mental development between men and women. However, since this idea that women mature earlier than men does not fit today’s increasingly complex society and economy in Japan, and since it is believed that there are no particular differences between men and women, it was decided to eliminate the differences between men and women in the age for the commencement of marriage.
As for the age of 18, the reason is that the percentage of students who go on to high school exceeds 98%, and that marriage requires social and economic maturity at least at the age of 18, which is the age at which students graduate from high school. Also, statistically there were very few women who actually married before the age of 18 in Japan.
Average age of first marriage in Japan:
According to the 2020 Current Population Survey by the Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry in Japan, the average age of first marriage was 31.0 years for men, down from 31.2 years the previous year, and 29.4 years for women, down from 29.6 years the previous year.
While there has been little change in the age at first marriage over the past five years, the survey also shows that over the past 15 years, the average age at first marriage has increased by 1.3 to 1.4 years for both men and women, from 29.8 to 31.1 years for husbands and 28.0 to 29.4 years for wives, respectively.
Although the average age of first marriage has continued to increase for both men and woman over time, it has leveled off in recent years, indicating that the average age of first marriage is slowing down for both men and women.
However, if we look at the age at which first marriages are most common, for women, it is 26-27 years old.
In other words, most people marry for the first time between the ages of 26 and 27, and this percentage has not changed much over the last 20 years.
Presently the proportion of older people experiencing their first marriage is increasing steadily, and this can be said to be a major factor pushing up the average age of first marriage.