Japan's lower house approves bill to lower minimum voting age

Updated: 2015-06-04 16:57


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TOKYO - Japan's lower house of parliament on Thursday approved a bill that would see the legal age for voters in national elections lowered from the current minimum age of 20 to 18.

Amid rising concerns about an apathetic younger generation when it comes to politics at both local and national levels, legislators are keen to encourage more young people to cast their votes, particularly as society here continues to age and shrink rapidly and simultaneously.

Japan's rapidly aging population and diminishing birthrate are, according to legislators, threatening the electoral system by hollowing out the core of the electorate.

The legislation could be enacted into law as early as June 17, providing it is approved in Japan's upper house of parliament.

Among other themes connected to the legislation is a clause that will, in the case of serious crimes against electoral laws being committed, see minors sent to public prosecutors. The change in law will also see the minimum age for being allowed to join electoral management committees lowered from 20 to 18.

The new bill was submitted by six parties, including ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior Komeito coalition party ally, as well as the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

The voting age in Japan has not been changed since it was lowered to 20 from 25 in 1945.