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Public Offices Election Act amended to reduce the voting age to 18

June 17, 2015

On the morning of June 17, a plenary session of the House of Councillors unanimously approved a bill to amend the Public Offices Election Act (jointly submitted by six parties, including LDP) to reduce the voting eligibility age from 20 to 18.

With the amendments, roughly 2.4 million minors aged 18 and 19 will have the right to vote. The measures are expected to be applied to national elections beginning with next year's House of Councillors election. This is the first expansion of voting rights in Japan in 70 years. The last was the reduction of the voting age from 25 to 20 in 1945.

The amendments also allow participation in election campaigns from age 18 onward, but the exceptions for minors provided in the Juvenile Act will not apply to campaign violations. If a major violation by minors invalidates a candidate's election victory, the violation case will be referred to a public prosecutor from Family Court and the same criminal procedures that apply to adults will apply to the minors. Likewise, the voting age for justices to the Supreme Court will be reduced to 18.

LDP Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki said that day during a press conference, "It is essential that people understand the impact that their participation in the political process will have on their lives and futures," emphasizing the importance of voter education in schools. He also indicated that the Party's policy will focus on youth programs in its activities.

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