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Things that are Illegal in the US but not Japan Part 1: Marriage at 16

by Ewa Nowogorski

Not a really big topic, but marriage is quite interesting to discuss when you compare the minimum legal age between Japan and the US. The US is generally more liberal and progressive than Japan in many aspects, but it actually has a higher minimum legal age of marriage for men and women than Japan does, that being 18 in most states and 19 in one or 2. Only under special circumstances are people allowed to get married earlier, and until 1971 the minimum legal age for marriage was 21 years. You could start legally drinking in Japan sooner than you could get married in America.

In Japan, the minimum legal age to get married for women is 16, and for men it is 18. So yes, a minor could technically get married with an adult in Japan, so long as both families consent. It is a little bit ironic to give this much freedom thought, as women in Japan are getting married later and later in life, with the average age of marriage for women being about 30. Some women are even choosing to not get married at all.

It is an interesting trend in Japan to give its people more rights and independence at an earlier age. The legal drinking and smoking age in Japan is 20, a year lower than that of America, and the age of adulthood will also be dropping for the Japanese from 20 to 18 in 2022.

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