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2014 July 9 - 15 [CIVIL RIGHTS]

Science Council of Japan calls for women’s minimum age for marriage to be raised to 18

July 9, 2014
The Science Council of Japan (SCJ), representing about 840,000 scientists in Japan, has recently released a policy recommendation suggesting that discriminatory stipulations against women relating to marriage be deleted from the Civil Code.

SCJ representatives at a press conference called for an amendment to the civil law and an increase in the legal minimum age of women for marriage from the present 16 to 18, the same age set for men.

Currently, women cannot marry again until six months after a divorce is finalized while men can remarry immediately following a divorce. They recommended that this Civil Code article be eliminated or shorten the prohibition period. They also said that Japan should adopt a system in which married couples can choose separate surnames.

SCJ member Ninomiya Shuhei, professor at Ritsumeikan University, explained that the General Recommendation on Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women considers that the minimum age of marriage should be 18 for both men and women because anyone below the age of 18 is legally a minor and that couples should attain full maturity to act by the time of marriage.

Ninomiya said that especially for girls, to marry and have children “may adversely affect their health and impede their education. As a result, their economic independence is restricted”. Pointing out an incorrect allegation which is “women have a different rate of intellectual development from men”, he called for abolishment of the different marriageable ages set for men and women.

Among Japanese under 60 years old, more people “accept” the separate surname system than those who “oppose” it. Nevertheless, the government uses the 2012 data in which those who “oppose” the system was slightly above those who approve.

The professor criticized the authorities for arbitrarily taking advantage of this data because 47.5% of polled people were over 60 years of age.

Broken down by age category, 47.1% of people in their 20s approve while 21.9% disapprove, followed by 44.4% and 21.4% in their 30s, 43.9% and 22.1% in their 40s, and 40.1% and 26.3% in their 50s.
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