A bill requesting a constitutional amendment to the national referendum laws regarding the legal voting age in Japan was passed in the lower house of the Diet on Friday. The amendment will bring the legal voting age from 20 to 18 years of age, but won’t go into effect for at least another four years.
The ruling Liberal-Democratic Party, its coalition New Komeito Party, the Democratic Party of Japan, Japan Restoration Party, Your Party, Yui no To, and the People’s Life Party all participated in submitting the bill. The New Renaissance Party said it will support the bill in the House of Councilors (upper house).
Prior to the bill being deliberated in the lower house, NHK polled people on the street to see what they thought. Many older people expressed concern that 18 might be too young to understand politics, while a majority of teenagers polled expressed indifference in the political process.
A previous referendum law was enacted in 2007 to remedy the fact that no detailed process existed in order to hold national referendums, but that amendment did not touch upon the voting age.
The bill comes under the Act on Procedures for Amendment of the Constitution and is expected to pass in the upper house before the current Diet session ends on June 22. It is seen as an important step in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to amend the constitution which must be approved by a majority in a referendum.