60. Article 4 of the Child Welfare Law of Japan defines "child" as "anyone below 18 years of age." Measures for promoting child welfare have been implemented in accordance with the fundamental policy of this Law as described in its paragraph 1 of Article 1 with "everyone shall strive to ensure the sound birth and growth of children, both in mind and body" and also in its paragraph 2 of Article 2 as "the livelihood of each and every child shall be equally guaranteed and protected."
61. Our efforts for child welfare promotion are also directed toward such aims as ensuring a full and well-balanced development of a child's personality and facilitating the child's development as a competent member of society. To this end, we have been expanding various measures, under the existing legal scheme of our country, to enhance protection and welfare of children.
(Minimum age required to legally make a contract or agreement on medical treatment independently without the consent of one's legal guardian)
62. The Civil Code of Japan provides that anyone who has attained the age of 20 may conduct juristic acts independently. Therefore, all contracts or agreements on medical treatment entered into by a person under 20 years of age without the consent of his/her legal representative may be canceled by the legal representative, though such contract or agreement remains effective retained if not canceled by the legal representative.
(Minimum age required to legally receive medical treatment or surgery independently without the consent of one's legal guardian)
63. The Civil Code of Japan provides that anyone who has attained the age of 20 may conduct juristic acts independently. All contracts on medical treatment or surgery entered into by a person under 20 years of age without the consent of his/her legal representative may be canceled by the legal representative, though such medical contract remains effective if not canceled by the legal representative.
(Minimum age at which children are legally released from compulsory education)
64. See Paragraph 40 of the Initial Report of Japan.
(Minimum ages required to legally engage in a job susceptible to injuries, part-time job or full-time job respectively)
65. With respect to a person under 18 full years of age, the Labor Standards
Law provides for restrictions on working hours and work on rest days,
prohibition of night work in principle, and restrictions on engaging in
dangerous and harmful jobs. In addition, the same Law provides that
children, for whom March 31 (the end of school year) has not passed since
they reached the age of 15, shall not be employed as workers. However,
children above 13 full years of age may, as an exception, be employed in
occupations in non-industrial enterprises to perform light labor which is
not injurious to the health and welfare of the children, with the permission
of the administrative office. Children under 13 full years of age may be
exceptionally employed in motion picture production and theatrical
performance enterprises with the permission of the administrative office.
The provisions in the Labor Standard Law also apply to part-time employment.
66. See Paragraph 39 of the Initial Report of Japan.
67. See Paragraph 45 of the Initial Report of Japan.
The Law for Punishing Acts Related to Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and for Protecting of Children, which took effect in November 1999, the law defines "child" as anyone under 18 years of age and punishes such acts as engaging in child prostitution, producing child pornography for the purpose of sale, etc.
(Voluntary enlistment in the army and conscription)
68. In Japan, there is no conscription system and the enlistment to the
Self-Defense Forces is completely based on voluntary applications.
It is ruled (by the Enforcement Regulations of Law (Article 25) and Instructions for Assignment of Youth Cadets) that the Self-Defense Forces may accept applications only from those who are 18 years old or over, except for the application for its educational institutions (youth cadet program).
(Participation in a hostile act)
69. As mentioned above, those under 18 years of age are not legally eligible to enlist in the Self-Defense Forces, except for the enrollment in its educational institutions (youth cadet program). Even those who have been employed by such educational institutions are not supposed to participate in any hostile act in combat. Therefore, there is no possibility that those under 18 years of age could directly take part in a battle action.
70. The Penal Code of Japan provides that anyone below 14 years of age shall not be subject to penal punishment. The minimum age at which a person shall be subject to criminal liability is fourteen.
(Detention during the process of investigation)
71. In Japan, it is ruled that those who shall be subject to criminal procedure are 14 years of age or older. The minimum age at which a person shall be subject to detention during the process of investigation is also fourteen.However, it is also ruled that detained juveniles over 14 years of age shall be treated differently from adult counterparts, taking into consideration juvenile-specific mentality.
(Transfer to correctional institutions)
72. In Japan, we have Juvenile Classification Homes as a national
institution for the classification of juvenile delinquents, and also
Juvenile Training Schools and Juvenile Prisons as national institutions for
juvenile correction. We also have Detention Houses at which accused and
suspected law offenders are kept in custody. Juvenile Classification Homes
accommodate those who have been committed thereto by a Family Court. The
primary duty of the Homes is (as provided under Articles 3 and 17 of the
Juvenile Law and Article 16 of the Juvenile Training School Law) to classify
the personality and disposition of the juvenile on the basis of medical
science, psychology, pedagogy, sociology, and other expert knowledge. This
classification is to contribute to the Family Courts' investigation,
hearings and decisions of proper protective measures for the juvenile, and
also to decisions of proper treatment for children who are 14 or 15 years
old who have been sentenced to imprisonment with or without labor.
Juvenile Training Schools are institutions which accommodate juvenile delinquents who have been committed thereto by a Family Court as a protective measure and have been committed thereto in order to serve one's sentence of imprisonment as ruled by the Juvenile Law. The Schools provide correctional education to the juvenile delinquents. It is ruled (under Article 2 of the Juvenile Training School Law) that the Schools accommodate only those who are fourteen years old or older.
Detention Houses accommodate suspected or accused juvenile law offenders and Juvenile Prisons accommodate the juveniles who have been sentenced to imprisonment through a criminal trial. Under the Penal Code of Japan (Article 41), it is ruled that an act of a person under 14 years of age is not punishable. Therefore, the penal institutions such as Detention Houses and Juvenile Prisons accommodate only those who are 14 years of age or older.
(Capital punishment and imprisonment for life)
73. The Juvenile Law of Japan provides that punishment that is given to
juvenile criminals who have not reached 18 years of age at the time that the
crime was committed shall be made lighter than punishment that would be
given to criminals who are 18 years of age or older. For instance, Article
51 of the Law rules that a life sentence shall be given to a juvenile
criminal (under 18 years of age at the time the crime was committed) when
his/her crime would otherwise deserve capital punishment under the Penal
Code, and that sentence of limited-term imprisonment may be given to a
juvenile criminal even when his/her crime would otherwise deserve life
imprisonment under the Penal Code. In the latter case the term of
imprisonment shall last between 10 and 15 years. Thus, the minimum age at
which a person shall be subject to capital punishment is 18 years at the
time of the crime. In Japan, we have no provision prescribing the minimum
age to be subject at which a person shall a life sentence, thus it is
actually 14 years at the time of the crime, as from this age, people shall
be subject to criminal liability under our national laws.
Before the recent partial amendment made in November 2000 to the Juvenile Law of Japan, its Article 51 used to rule that a sentence of limited-term imprisonment, between 10 and 15 years, shall be given to a juvenile criminal who did not reach 18 years of age at the time of the crime though the crime would otherwise deserve life imprisonment for those who have reached 18 years of age. However, the amended law, which established in November 2000, allows the court to make a decision on whether the sentence should be life imprisonment or limited-term imprisonment.
(Witness at a civil trial)
74. In Japan, there is no rule as to the legal qualification of a witness to testify at a civil trial, including his/her age and competence.
(Witness at a criminal trial)
75. There is no provision in the Criminal Procedure Code of Japan
prescribing the conditions of legal competence of a juvenile or child
witness to testify at a criminal trial. However, we have a court ruling
which admitted the competence of a 44-month-old child, or a victim of
indecent assault at the time of 42 months old, to testify in court, after
making clear that the witnesses competence to testify is decided not by
his/her age, but by the circumstances of individual cases and that the
matter requiring a witness to testify is a significant element in making
such judgement. (Judgement of Tokyo District Court on November 14, 1973 on
page 24, No. 723 of Hanrei-Zihou (Judicial Magazine))
In an effort to mitigate psychological and mental effects that witnesses could suffer in the course of testifying in courts, the Criminal Procedure Code of Japan was partially amended in 2000 to introduce protective measures for witnesses where they may testify without being seen by the defendant or by the method of video links in which the witness in a separate room is examined through a TV monitor.
(Minimum age required to be legally competent to file a lawsuit or bring a claim to the court for indemnification)
76. It is provided that anyone who has attained the age of 20 may file a civil suit and proceed in the suit independently. However, for a criminal suit, any private citizens including anyone who has attained the age of 20 is not allowed to prosecute.
(Minimum age required to be legally competent to participate in an administrative or judicial litigation)
77. In Japan, there is no age restriction on suing or being sued in his/her own name in administrative or civil litigation.
(Minimum age to be charged with a criminal act)
78. The minimum age to be charged with a criminal act is fourteen years. The victim of a criminal act has the right to express his/her opinion during the procedure of criminal suit or juvenile judgement, and there is no age restriction for a juvenile/child victim allowed to express his/her opinion.
(Minimum age required to be legally competent to make a change to one's status in the family register)
79. The Civil Code of Japan provides that anyone who has attained the age of 15 may change his/her family name or agree to be adopted and dissolve the adoptive relation by himself/herself. It is also provided that all married persons, even if they are under 20 years of age, may effect divorce by agreement.
(Minimum age required to be legally competent to access the family register)
80. We have no rule prescribing the minimum age of legal competence to apply for a copy of the family register. Under Article 13 of the Census Registration Law, the family register shall include such information as one's own family name, given name, date of birth, names of his/her natural parents, relation with his/her natural mother and father among others.
(Legal competence for inheritance and assets disposal)
81. In Japan, those who are under 20 years of age are not legally capable of conducting juristic acts independently. However, there is no age requirement for inheritance.
(Foundation of an organization and enrollment in an organization)
82. The Civil Code of Japan provides that anyone who has attained the age of 20 may conduct juristic acts independently. Therefore, all juristic acts taken by those under 20 years of age without the consent of their legal representative, including acts to establish an organization and enroll in an organization, remains effective if not withdrawn by the legal representative.
(Freedom of choice of religion and enrollment in a religious school)
83. See Paragraph 100 of the Initial Report of Japan.
(Consumption of alcohol and other restricted substances)
84. See Paragraph 47 of the Initial Report of Japan.
In Japan, the Law for Prohibiting Liquor to Minors and the Law for Prohibiting Smoking to Minors respectively prescribe punishments for such acts as selling alcoholic drinks or cigarettes to juveniles under the age of 20 years.
(Relationship between the age at which children become legally released from compulsory education and the starting at which they become ages legally competent for various styles of labor. Impact of such relationship on children's rights to education. Consideration of relevant treaties)
85. The Labor Standards Law provides for restrictions on working hours and work on rest days, prohibition of night work in principle, and restrictions on dangerous and harmful jobs. In addition, the same Law provides that children, for whom March 31 has not passed since they reached the age of 15, shall not be employed as workers. However, children above 13 full years of age may, as an exception, be employed in occupations in non-industrial enterprises to perform light labor which is not injurious to the health and welfare of the children, with the permission of the administrative office. Children under 13 full years of age may be exceptionally employed in motion picture production and theatrical performance enterprises.
(Gender difference in marriage-related restriction)
86. Under Article 731 of the Civil Code of Japan, a male may not marry until
he has reached 18 years of age, nor may a female until she has reached 16
years of age.
We believe that such gender distinction in terms of marriageable age does not violate Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Marriage is an act of people to form a new family to function as a fundamental unit of society, and therefore permission for marriage should not be given to citizens who have not reached maturity. Thus, the law does not allow any children to marry, since they are regarded as immature to do so. We also consider that there is a general difference between males and females with regard to the age at which they become marriageable physically and mentally. We believe that the difference employed by our national law between males and females in the prescribed minimum age of legal competence for marriage is reasonable, since it reflects the above-mentioned difference in the degree of physical and mental development between males and females. Therefore, we believe that such difference does not violate Article 2 of the Convention.
(Gender difference in judicial treatments applied to those involved in a sexual crime)
87. Under the Penal Code of Japan, we allow gender difference in judicial
treatments applied to those involved in a sexual crime. We consider that
such difference, introduced in consideration of inherent physiological
differences between males and females, does not fall under "discrimination"
as mentioned in Article 2 of the Convention. Some examples of such
In the Penal Code of Japan, Article 117 (rape), Article 181 (rape resulting in death/bodily injury), Article 214 (rape on the occasion of robbery resulting in death) and Article 182 (inducement to sexual intercourse) all limit the object of the crime to females. This limitation is regarded as a mere distinction, considering that there is no gender difference with regard to the subject of the crime and that criminologically such indecent acts are usually committed by a male person against a female person, and that protective measures for rape victims should be designed specifically for the benefit of female persons, taking into account physical and physiological difference between females and males. Article 176 of the Penal Code (forcible indecency) and Article 181 of the same code (forcible indecency resulting in death/bodily injury) do not have any gender limitations on the object of the crime, thereby all assailants shall be punished regardless of whether a victim is female or male.
In the Penal Code, Article 213 (abortion with consent), Article 214 (abortion in the conduct of business), Article 215 (abortion without consent) and Article 216 (abortion with consent resulting in death/bodily injury) all limit the object of the crime to female, while there is no gender difference with regard to the subject of the crime. Such limitation is based on the physical and physiological difference between femalesand m ales, or that only females are capable of becoming pregnant, and is also aimed at protecting the life and body of unborn babies and mothers. Thus it is regarded as a mare distinction.
Article 212 of the Penal Code (abortion) limits the subject of the crime to females, but here again, this article aims to protect the life and body of unborn babies and mothers. Also, male persons who have been involved in this crime committed by females are subject to penal punishment as an accomplice of this Article, and above mentioned Articles 214-216 are applicable to male persons. Thus, we believe that this provision dose not fall under an unfair treatment females.
(Definition of adolescence)
88. The Penal Code of Japan has no definition of adolescence.