national

LDP studies lowering legal age for drinking, smoking to 18

56 Comments

A panel of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is studying a proposal to lower the legal age for drinking alcohol and smoking from 20 to 18.

Opinions were divided over the issue at the panel's first meeting this week. Fuji TV reported. Proponents said that because the voting age has been lowered to 18, it is reasonable to lower the drinking and smoking age to 18 as well.

However, opponents expressed concern that it would cause health problems among young people, promote anti-social behavior and cause them to spend too much money on alcohol and cigarettes.

The panel is planning to meet again next week. Any change would require a revision of the Civil Code.

The panel is also discussing, along with the LDP's junior coalition partner, the Komeito Party, lowering the age of juvenile protection to below 18, as well as lowering the age at which anyone can gamble to 18.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

56 Comments
Login to comment

Interesting that the govt derives considerable tax revenue from both alcohol and tobacco - about 50% of the purchase price for beer, plus even more profit on JT-branded products.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Eh NO! Don't increase smokers, DUH. Please ban smoking altogether. Who comes up with these ridiculous ideas.

20 ( +27 / -7 )

In addition to tax revenue, the Ministry of Finance also owns a 1/3 stake in Japan Tobacco, meaning their interests are closely aligned.

Japan has to be the only country in the developed world where they are actually having a policy debate about making cigarrettes more accessible to young people.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

Drinking, sure, if you can get married, drive a car, join self defence force, seems fair.

Smoking however, put the age up one year every year.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Bad move... raise the age for these activities, not lower it.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Should be raised, not lowered. Such destructive habits!

1 ( +8 / -7 )

@rainyday I

n addition to tax revenue, the Ministry of Finance also owns a 1/3 stake in Japan Tobacco, meaning their interests are closely aligned.

Thanks. The state profiting from increased sales of tobacco via more tax revenues speaks to how cynically the state views its own citizens.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

well i have a son 17 and i certainly prefer he delay smoking and drinking for as long as possible. he is already addicted to that darn iphone.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Quite frankly, I don't think it will make a noticeable difference. If 18 year olds want to smoke and drink they find a way.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

As we know, NOBODY under the age of 20 drinks or smokes in Japan...! lol

10 ( +15 / -5 )

My boy can't drink. Thank God he inherited the wife's genes and not mine ; )

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Lower the bar for Drinking (but only for Beer and low alcohol drinks). As for strong alcohol beverages AND smoking, keep it as it is.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

"However, opponents expressed concern that it would cause health problems among young people, promote anti-social behavior and cause them to spend too much money on alcohol and cigarettes."

How about banning smoking altogether -- for everyone. And discouraging drinking parties as well, while still lowering the age to 18, since they'll be adults. It's always ridiculous in nations like the US when you think about the fact that a person is old enough to vote, live alone, pay taxes, and go off to war and die, but the government considers them three years too young to drink some alcohol or smoke cigarettes. It's not like your body literally changes on the exact day you've completed your 20th trip around the sun, and more importantly kids at 18 are going to get booze or smokes just as easily whether it's allowed or not, so may as well take some of the fun out of getting it and make it legal.

In Japan they never check anyway -- you just have to press a button at the register or online to 'confirm' you are of age (I will admit, though, I've actually seen a couple of convenience stores ask young people for ID, lately). Just pass by any izakaya around graduation time and look at all the bicycles parked in front and kids inside getting drunk, IN THEIR SCHOOL UNIFORMS sometimes!!

Anyway, the arguments against are silly. If these old codgers, whom I would bet a million dollars go out and get red-face ripped at Bo-nenkais, Shin-nenkais, nendoumatsu-kais, and other nomikais, are really worried about health they'd start by not allowing convenience store sales of booze, or at least set times of day that alcohol can and can't be sold, and get serious about cutting back on work-sponsored nomikais, etc. As for smoking, like I said, ban in altogether.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Starting smoking two years earlier won't cut two years from that person's lifespan: it will cut even more. Furthermore younger people have had less time to develop common sense, so even more of them are likely to take up the habit than 20-year-olds. It will take several decades until the scale of this mistake is reflected in health statistics, and by then it will be too late.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Like most rules in Japan the age limit for smoking and alcohol is hardly ever policed so why the h.. not. 16 and 17 year old smoke and drink without much concern for the law - but if you're going to lower the age start enforcing it!~

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Good idea. But at the same time, be much stricter on buying and selling tobacco and alcohol by and to those under 18. Including removal of a licence to sell if a vendor persists in selling to minors. And let's have full adult criminal responsibility at 18 as well, with a reduced level of responsibility (though tougher than now) down to 16 or maybe 14.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Please NO! 18 year old Japanese may me adults in body, but not in mind. Think drinking and driving is a problem now, see how many 18 years get killed and kill others because of their immaturity.

The government is just looking for ways to make more tax income without considering the circumstances that will affect the country socially.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I wish they'd make those stupid touch pad buttons in convenience stores that somehow prove the toucher to be 20 illegal. I am sick of being asked to press some filthy screen to "prove" I am over 20 at the age of 45.

Ban smoking completely. It's a killer as we all know. Make 18 the age for everything else including full criminal responsibility.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Abenomics at work! A stimulus for the alcohol, tabacco, bar, and medical industries.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

It's cute how so many of you think no one engages in these habits until the very day they turn 20. For those who for some reason think that waiting until your a legal adult lowers the health risks, how about kazuedoshi? are they suddenly more adult and their bodies different if they follow that age? Are they suddenly YOUNGER if they decided they still want to be 59 when according to kazuedoshi they turn 60? I'm just throwing it out there to prove a point that the actual numbers are moot points when it comes to actual physical differences. You're no different a few months before your 20th birthday than you are a few months after.

As I said before, and as others have as well, lower the age to reflect the age of adulthood being lowered, but ENFORCE the laws for a change! and get rid of smoking and promotion of what is basically hazing in companies and other drinking parties.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

What about the age of majority? I hope that that's where this movement leads to.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

might as well...underaged kids are drinking and smoking anyways..and while your at it why not make them just as liable for committing crimes as adults are..AND, allow the media to publish the names and images of underaged criminals

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan could learn from their ally's mistakes with regards to this issue.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Kids drink and smoke freely three years below the legal age all over the world. Make it eighteen, then fifteen-year-olds will be doing it. It's human nature....

1 ( +3 / -2 )

They should try lowering it one year at first ,it does seem to be a money raking excercuse

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Listening to my Hamhurg radio station, lets say 16 is a resonsible age, but only having been edudated.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It seems strange to me that in a country where there are (more and more?) "parasite singles", "Cinderella complexes", hikikomori (acute social withdrawl), "peter pan syndrome" (Kiley, 1983) and where university is seen as "moratorium" (a putting off, or an extension of childhood) by "moratorium humans" (Okonogi, 1981) that there should be a decrease in the age of majority, at least in regard to voting and these drugs. It would seem appropriate rather that these ages be increased.

@Luca I have no idea what he is on about but "island" may be a code word for "son" (in the vernacular).

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Lowering the age is OK.......but cut out all the ads that show drinking and smoking is cool. It is not. I don't think we need to see advertisements showing this kind of activity, which goes against the World Health Organization mandate which Japan is a member of.............

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Lowering the age for drinking and gambling without changing the age for adulthood is utterly absurd! How can you have 'juneniles' drinking and gambling? If they are going to be given the right to be an adult they have to be charged as one too!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I notice something total strange to me when I first move here compare to the west. That is I see a lot of family outings with their children, the strange thing is (which is great) their age. I see the 16 to 18 years old still going out with their Parents. My children once they were 16 (who grow up in the west) decline to go out with us. I know it is embarrassment if seen by their peers that prevent them from the outings. I glad that these adolescence are still enjoying a family outing without any pressure from their peers. I wonder if it got to do with age limit for drinking here in Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@lucabrasiSEP. 04, 2015 - 04:09PM JST My boy can't drink. Thank God he inherited the wife's genes and not mine ; )

=====================================================================

So it must be gene! nobody in my family used alcohol or cigarettes and none of my children use either.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ban people who want to ban what other people do.

Did all of you rush to the conbini on your (insert legal age of where you were then) birthday to stock up on cigarettes and beer?

The issue is valid. If you are considered mature enough to make a voting decision, that should carry over to other decisions. It's not about the choice,it's about the right to choose.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@ Disillusioned"Lowering the age for drinking and gambling without changing the age for adulthood is utterly absurd! How can you have 'juneniles' drinking and gambling? If they are going to be given the right to be an adult they have to be charged as one too!"

good point, this could also increase the 1 out 3 factor.. scary...NTM the new trending pariahs

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Not sure why a lot of people think drinking is harmless but smoking should be banned? You have a higher chance of dying at the hands of a drunk driver than second hand smoke from a random smoker on the street.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I don't know how as a policy it would affect the country, but I've always figured a good rule of thumb is if you're old enough to join your country's defense forces and die for your society, you're old enough to have a beer.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Decades ago studies showed that there is a medical reason why folks who begin smoking before the age of 21 are significantly more likely to become nicotine addicted than folks who try smoking after age 21. When my son was around 12 years old, I told him at the dinner table, "When you get older, you may drink a little but YOU AREN'T GOING TO SMOKE AT ALL." He shrugged, "I'm not interested in either." (We were living in Sapporo, so the idea of drugs didn't come up at all.) My son is now 39, the CEO of his own international business with offices in Tokyo and San Francisco, and a light partaker of wine. But he has never smoked anything in his life.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Thank heavens the majority of the youth in Japan are a credit to their generation, and awake in the morning with their head on the correct way up, that is not always the case in the UK. Kids will be kids, they will puff a ciggy and knock back a beer because it's all part of the process of growing up. Raise revenue by reforming the economy, the rest is best left alone.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How about raising drinking age to 25 and raising smoking age to 100? That would make a lot more sense.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Proponents said that because the voting age has been lowered to 18, it is reasonable to lower the drinking and smoking age to 18 as well.

so funny

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Smoking and the excessive use of alcohol is a bad idea and it doesn't help your overall health. The younger you are when you start the harder it is to quit. Smoking causes nearly 6 million deaths world-wide. With 2,000,000+ deaths occurring each year due to alcohol or alcohol-related crashes. It increasingly affects the younger generations and this serious issue increases year by year. It isn't worth wasting away your life over smoking or drinking to the point that it causes damage to heath. Think about the smart thing to do and stop.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

. Who comes up with these ridiculous ideas.

Japan Tobacco. Guess who is the largest stake holder...?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I do see some young kids smoking on the Namba area in front of Takashimiya department store couple of weeks ago already, so it won't make much different. On another note, I really do appreciate the no smoking and walking in Tokyo though. - at least in Kanda area where I was at.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

not a good proposal

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Kanda area where I was at"

Lot of chinese restaurants there, and heavy smokers in those restaurants...especially at lunchtime...

ref: http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Any person old enough to join the military should be old enough to drink, smoke, vote, etc...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@battambangbound

My son is now 39, the CEO of his own international business with offices in Tokyo and San Francisco, and a light partaker of wine. But he has never smoked anything in his life.

But is he more interesting/successful/entertaining/happy/remembered than Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Lennon, Barak Obama, JK Rowling, Mark Twain, Jo Jackson or Whoopi Goldberg?

Let's face it, if achievement is the goal, smoking should be made compulsory.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

as well as lowering the age at which anyone can gamble to 18.

I think this, and not the health of young people, is the key point. It's possible that gambling money winds up in the pockets of those who propose bills like this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why cant they do the smart thing and lower the age of being criminally charged as and adult to 18. Getting sick of seeing murder & other crimes getting the old "He/She was 18 to 20" and is still a quote on quote minor . That's what they should be doing. Just Saiyan.*****

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Julian Genesis NealSEP. 05, 2015 - 04:26AM JST Why cant they do the smart thing and lower the age of being criminally charged as and adult to 18. Getting sick of seeing murder & other crimes getting the old "He/She was 18 to 20" and is still a quote on quote minor . That's what they should be doing. Just Saiyan.*****

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

I agree with you.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The cynic in me is saying, "Rember that they lowered the voting age too, Abe's just trying to get the votes of younger people, who want to be grown up.... Then he'll send them to war."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The cynic in me is saying, "Rember that they lowered the voting age too, Abe's just trying to get the votes of younger people, who want to be grown up.... Then he'll send them to war."

Why cynic? This is exactly what is happening. It doesn't matter what anyone here thinks about the proposal... it's going to happen before the next election. Jenny Shipley did exactly the same thing with the drinking age in NZ in '99... fortunately it wasn't enough to keep the National party of the time in office. Pretty sure most people in NZ want the drinking age raised back to 20 now.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I find this absolutely insane thinking. Both are known to cause cancer and bad health. On one hand they a concern about the population intake of Vegs and in the other hand they have want to extend the market on smoke and grog to more of the population. Young people love the idea but that group of society is not going to vote for Mr Shinzou Abe. If your chasing revenue increase the tax on smokes

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good move. Adult rights have to come all together at 18 : age to decide your life on your own responsibility, to vote, to get killed in your country's army, to get judged and go to jail as an adult, to decide if you want to consume crap or not, be 'immoral' or not.

Both are known to cause cancer and bad health.

You believe smoking and drinking illegally, or not doing those between 18 and 20 is worse for health than just doing the same legally ?

Kids will be kids, they will puff a ciggy and knock back a beer because it's all part of the process of growing up.

Not, it's because they see their parents, their teachers, their politicians... just do that. They imitate. Abe's wife is a bar owner.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Coskuri : Shoot off, read later is that how you evaluate a comment. I am not for or against. If you use your english skills correctly. You will realise I am questioning the reasoning behind todays Governments policy and reform agenda. Yes it is illegal to sell smokes to underage people. The Government wants to extend the legal market to those which it is illegal. Has for alcohol, you do not need a proof of age and obtain a beer from a vending machine. I assume that access to this product this is not illegal by not have to prove you status.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am amazed at the numbers of young japanese girl smokers in this country. The polls published do not match what I see and count.

Ban smoking all together please. This of other sources of tax revenue.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

No problem but ban all advertising. Advertising for tobacco is still everywhere. Colourful vending machines in the streets, generic "たばこ" signs infront of most convenience stores. No one of any age should be encouraged or persuaded to smoke.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites