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Yohei Sasakawa
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Japanese Youths Found Least Optimistic About Future of Their Country: 6-Nation Survey [2022年04月15日(Fri)]
Percentage of respondents replying that their country’s future would “get better.”

The Nippon Foundation conducted an “Awareness Survey of Society and Country” from January 26 to February 8, 2022, covering 1,000 people aged between 17 and 19 in each of six countries: China, India, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The online poll followed a similar survey the foundation conducted in nine countries in late 2019. As in the previous survey, the latest poll showed that in virtually all areas, young people in Japan ranked last behind their peers in the five other countries in terms of their expectations for the future of their country.

Asked whether they believe their country will “get better” in the future, only a little more than one in 10 in Japan (13.9%) responded “yes,” falling way behind those in China (95.7%), India (83.1%), the United Kingdom (39.1%), the United States (36.1%) and South Korea (33.8%).

Regarding whether they think the competitiveness of their country will be stronger in 10 years, a mere 10.9% answered in the affirmative, compared with those in China (89.7%), India (65.6%), South Korea (37.7%), the United Kingdom (34.3%) and the United States (27.4%).

The survey also asked the respondents whether they expect their country will be able to exert leadership in international society. Only one in five in Japan (22.8%) responded “yes,” again lagging far behind China (86.0%), India (79.7%), the United States (61.5%), the United Kingdom (56.2%) and South Korea (53.3%).

The poll was conducted about two months before Japan lowered the legal age of adulthood from 20 to 18, effective on April 1. It had been set at 20 for more than 140 years.

On the question of whether they considered themselves to be adults, about one in four in Japan (27.3%) said “yes,” as compared to those in the United Kingdom (85.9%), the United States (85.7%), India (83.7%), China (71.0%) and South Korea (46.7%).

Queried whether they thought themselves to be responsible members of society, about half of Japanese (48.4%) said they did, still well below young people in India (82.8%), the United Kingdom (79.9%), China (77.1%), the United States (77.1%) and South Korea (65.7%).

About whether they believed their actions could change their country and society, roughly one fourth of Japanese (26.9%) responded affirmatively, compared with India (78.9%), China (70.9%), South Korea (61.5%), the United States (58.5%) and the United Kingdom (50.6%).

Concerning changes in attitude toward social participation since the novel coronavirus pandemic, the results indicated a greater desire to play a role in society compared with pre-pandemic days. Roughly one in five Japanese respondents (18.7%) said they wanted to do something useful for their country and society, although this was far less than the one in two Chinese (53.9%) and one in two Indians (51.1%), with the figures for the other  countries somewhere in between−32.2% for the United States, 28.2% for South Korea and 24.2% for the United Kingdom.

Overall, the latest survey found again that young people in Japan expressed more anxiety and a sense of helplessness about the future to a degree not seen in their counterparts in the other countries.

I sincerely hope that the results of the poll will encourage the government and schools in Japan to press ahead with political, social and educational reforms with a view to helping young adults and people approaching adulthood find ways to foster optimism about the future.

Percentage of respondents replying “yes” to statements related to awareness of social participation.

Percentage of respondents replying “yes” to statements regarding their awareness of political participation.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 07:52 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
Japanese Young People Believe Men Need to Know More About Menstruation [2022年03月15日(Tue)]

How much do young Japanese understand issues surrounding menstruation, from inconveniences in daily life to the economic effects? A poll by The Nippon Foundation, the latest in our “Awareness Survey of 18-Year-Olds” series, found that only 40.0% of women and 17.8% of men think they had sufficient knowledge of menstruation, with 43.4% of women and 30.4% of men replying “they would like to know more.”

The online survey on “Menstrual Issues” also showed that when it comes to men’s knowledge of the subject, a majority of women (74.4%) and men (61.0%) agreed that “men need to know more.”

The survey was carried out between December 10 and 15, 2021, covering 1,000 Japanese aged between 17 and 19 across the nation.

Roughly half of men (49.8%) and women (53.8%) replied that classes in school were their main source of information on the subject, but less than 30% of all respondents (29.3%) were satisfied with the quantity (number/frequency) and content of those classes.

When asked what they wanted schools to teach about periods, more than two thirds of women (70.0%) cited information about menstrual products and more than half of men (56.0%) mentioned appropriate consideration for women while they are menstruating.

Regarding inconveniences in daily life for women while having their periods, almost half of them (44.4%) experienced an insufficient availability of sanitary products in public places and one in three (32.4%) said that even though they wanted to miss or leave school classes or extracurricular activities early, they could not do so and just put up with it.

The survey also found that there is a psychological burden from insufficient understanding or consideration by others, including not being able to tell teachers or other persons in authority that one does not feel well (10.6%), or having those persons not understand that one does not feel well (9.4%).

In addition, 15.1% of women replied that in the past year, for economic reasons, they could not afford to purchase sanitary products, or replaced them less frequently, or used substitute items or items they borrowed from others or were given.

The economic burden caused by menstruation was also highlighted, with 71.6% of women and 51.6% of men replying that sanitary products should be subject to a reduced consumption tax rate, and 63.4% of women and 45.8% of men answering that sanitary products should be made available for free in such places as public restrooms.

What are the main inconveniences in daily life or lack of understanding by others you have experienced?

During the past year, have you experienced inconveniences with sanitary products for economic reasons?
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 11:03 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
More Than Half of Working Japanese Youths Were Not Aware of COVID-19 Financial Aid Program [2021年11月22日(Mon)]
Has your interest in politics and social issues increased or decreased compared with before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic?

The novel coronavirus pandemic has greatly affected people from all walks of life in Japan, regardless of gender and age. Especially for young people, their school life has been dramatically altered by online classes, while the COVID-19-hit economy makes it harder to find jobs and plan for a career.

Against this background, The Nippon Foundation conducted a survey on the “Coronavirus and Social Participation” for six days from September 16, covering 1,000 Japanese aged between 17 and 19 across the country.

The online poll found that since the first coronavirus case was reported in Japan in January 2020, respondents reduced their indoor wining and dining with three people or more (69.1%), participated in fewer community activities and events (58.2%), and used public transportation less (53.4%).

Of all the respondents, those who were working when the poll was taken accounted for 32.5%, while 7.6% said they were not working then, but have worked at least once since January 2020.

Of those who were working at the time of the poll, about one in five (20.6%) said their income declined due to the pandemic, while more than 40% (41.9%) said they felt job openings had decreased.

COVID-19 has also made young Japanese more interested in politics and social issues. Compared to before the outbreak of the pandemic, they have an increased sense that (multiple answers accepted) politics and elections affect their life (33.9%), they have ideas and think about politics, elections and social issues (27.9%), talk with people around them about those issues (25.9%), and proactively obtain information on such issues (24.4%).

For me, what was unexpected in the findings was that of those who were working or who have worked during the pandemic, more than half (52.6%) were not aware that part-time workers were eligible for the government’s financial aid program for people whose income declined.

Surprisingly, only about one in ten (9.2%) of those who have worked during the pandemic had applied and received such aid from the government. The rest did not apply even though they met the criteria (7.5%), or because they did not meet the criteria (11.2%), or because they did not know what the criteria were (19.5%).

Initially, companies and store owners were supposed to apply to the government for financial aid for their employees whose income declined due to the pandemic. However, owners of many small and medium-sized companies and stores were reluctant to apply on behalf of their employees due mainly to what they see as cumbersome and complicated procedures.

This has prompted the government to allow individual workers to apply on their own. But it doesn’t make any sense if people are not aware that they are eligible.

Japan has made progress in mitigating the effects of the coronavirus so far. But there are still many uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and where things go from here, sometimes forcing policy-makers into confusion. I strongly hope the government will do all it can to keep people well informed on how its COVID-19 responses work, and how they help them and the nation’s economy.

How has the pandemic affected your job hunting and career?
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:05 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
More Japanese Youths Likely to Vote in Lower House Election: The Nippon Foundation Poll [2021年10月19日(Tue)]
Do you intend to vote in the upcoming lower house election?

Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida dissolved the House of Representatives on October 14, setting the stage for a general election on October 31.

The former foreign minister was elected president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on September 29. Then, thanks to the party’s comfortable majority in both chambers of the Diet (Parliament) he was appointed prime minister on October 4, succeeding Yoshihide Suga who did not seek re-election as party leader and head of the government after just one year in office.

Will young Japanese go to the polls at the general election and if so, what will determine their voting behavior? The Nippon Foundation conducted a survey from August 12 to 16 on the theme of a “National Election”, covering 916 Japanese who will have turned 18, the legal voting age, by October 31. The poll was based on the assumption that Japan will have a general election this fall after the four-year term of lower house members expires on October 21.

The online nationwide survey found that more than half of respondents (55.2%) said they will either vote or probably vote in the general election, a significantly higher figure than the 40.49% turnout for 18- and 19-year-olds in the previous lower house election in October 2017.

On the other hand, a little more than one in five (22.3%) said they will not vote or probably not vote with almost the same percentage (22.5%) saying they don’t know.

Of those who said they will or probably will vote (multiple answers accepted), more than half (55.5%) said they would do so because it is people’s right to vote, followed by 46.4% who said voting is a civic duty and 20.9% who said election results affect their lives.  

The top reason given by those who don’t intend to vote was that voting is burdensome (51.0%), followed by 22.5% who said they are busy, 16.2%  who said they do not know how to vote and 14.7% who said they are indifferent to politics.

When asked which social issues should be prioritized in the election campaign, the highest mark was given to health and hygiene (6.52 on a scale of 1 to 10), indicating Japanese youths’ keen interest in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other issues cited were economic growth and employment (6.30), child rearing and the declining birthrate (6.25), disaster response and rehabilitation (6.22), and child poverty (6.14).

By sex, females place more importance on the rights and protection of children and on LGBTQ rights than men did as campaign issues, while men consider disaster response and rehabilitation, and education and schools to be more important than women.

The respondents were asked about voter turnout among the young generation, which is said to be lower than for other generations in Japan (multiple answers accepted). Almost half (48.1%) said they agree with the view that turnout needs to be higher to make the opinions of young people reflected in politics, with nearly two in five (37.2%) supporting the view that wide differences in turnout among generations might make for policies that favor certain groups. One fourth (25.2%) are of the view that Japanese young people see few or no politicians as having great ambitions.

Queried about what would make them more interested in voting with a view to boosting turnout, being able to vote by smartphone or personal computer ranked highest at 64.1%, followed by receipt of a present or gift as incentives (50.2%), greater availability of easy-to-understand information about politics (49.5%), election issues more related to young people (47.5%), and more young candidates and elected officials (47.3%).

Regarding their sources of information about elections and politics, two in three (66.6%) chose television, more than twice as much as social networks (27.0%), internet news (24.9%), and newspapers (20.6%).

Japan lowered the voting age from 20 to 18 under the revised Public Officers Election Act that came into effect in 2016, which means the October 31 general election will be the second in which 18- and 19-year-olds can vote.

Low turnout among young people of voting age is a serious problem for any country. As stated earlier, the last lower house election in 2017 saw the turnout among 18- and 19-year-olds come to 40.49%. As for the House of Councilors elections, it stood at 46.78% in 2016, but fell substantially to 32.28% in 2019.

Analyzing the findings of the latest survey, I look forward to seeing how the COVID-19 pandemic and the new administration installed earlier this month will affect Japanese youths’ voting behavior in the imminent general election.

What would make you more interested in voting and likely to vote?
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 11:44 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
Majority of Japanese Youths in Favor of COVID-19 Vaccination with 22% Undecided (2) [2021年09月21日(Tue)]
Asked who should be given priority in receiving vaccinations, the highest mark was given to people working at hospitals and other medical facilities (7.84 on a scale of 1 to 10), followed by those with underlying medical conditions (6.88) and caregivers working at nursing facilities (6.83). On the other hand, lower points were given to company employees aged 16 to 49 (5.35), students (5.57) and company employees aged 50 to 64 (5.62).

Japan started its vaccination campaign in mid-February by prioritizing about 4.8 million front-line medical personnel, followed by approximately 36 million people aged 65 or older. But the rest of the population had to wait, among them about 8.2 million people with underlying health conditions and some 2 million care workers at nursing facilities.

On August 27, the Tokyo metropolitan government opened a vaccination center in the capital's Shibuya Ward for people aged between 16 and 39 to get a jab without an appointment.

But on the first day, the center was forced to close its reception desk at 7:30 a.m. after the number of applicants quickly reached the daily limit of 300. As a result, many of those who had lined up could not get inoculations.

Then, on the second day, the center began distributing lottery tickets between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and announced the winning numbers via social media at 11:30 a.m.

But this backfired because applicants still had to show up to get a lottery ticket at a time when residents of Tokyo were being asked to restrict their outdoor activities as much as possible due to the state of emergency in place in response to the pandemic. More than 2,000 people queued up−the line stretched for about one kilometer−for lottery tickets for just 350 doses. This prompted the metropolitan government authorities to switch to an online lottery for doses to be administered from September 4.

In The Nippon Foundation’s survey taken in mid-July, 36.6% of young Japanese said they wanted to get vaccinated but had been unable to make an appointment. As the episode in Tokyo showed, there were still many people eager and waiting to be vaccinated as of the end of August.

The population of Tokyo’s 23 wards stands at more than 9 million. Even the most conservative estimate puts the number of people who want to get vaccinated in the tens or hundreds of thousands. It was quite clear that if the Tokyo government opened a vaccination center with only 300 to 350 doses at hand per day, the result would likely be a shambles.

Tokyo’s actions have been hard to fathom and this seems another example of the metropolitan government’s muddled response to COVID-19.


Who should be given priority in receiving vaccinations?
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
Majority of Japanese Youths in Favor of COVID-19 Vaccination with 22% Undecided (1) [2021年09月17日(Fri)]
Do you intend to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

In mid-July, The Nippon Foundation conducted an online survey to find out what young people thought of the getting vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.  At the time, the contagious Delta variant was accelerating the spread of the virus, but some Japanese youths were said to be reluctant to get vaccinated in part because of false rumors about side effects.

To find out more, between July 16 and 20 we surveyed 1,000 Japanese across the country aged between 17 and 19 on the subject of “Coronavirus Vaccines.”

The poll found that about one in 10 of the respondents (9.1%) said they had already been vaccinated while almost a similar percentage (10.5%) had made an appointment to get a shot. But close to 40% (36.6%) who wanted to get vaccinated had been unable to make an appointment. In other words, more than half of young Japanese (56.2%) had been or were intending to get vaccinated at the time the survey was carried out.

On the contrary, one in five (22.5%) said they had not decided and almost the same percentage (21.3%) did not intend to get vaccinated.

When asked why they did not intend to get a shot (multiple answers accepted), three in 10 (32.2%) cited their concern about short-term or mild side effects and a similar portion (31.3%) were worried about long-term or serious side effects.

But some answered optimistically, including those who said that young people’s health is not significantly affected even if they become infected with the coronavirus (2.5%) and that Japan has had few infections so their likelihood of becoming infected is low (1.8%).

Respondents were also asked about a proposal by business organizations and others for introducing so-called vaccine passports requiring people to show proof−whether of double vaccination, a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or antigen tests, or finishing self-isolation after being infected−in order to gain entry to restaurants, bars or other venues with large crowds, as well as public transportation. The scheme, also known as the health pass in France and green pass in Italy and Austria, are all designed to normalize economic and social activities while staving off spikes in COVID-19 infections.

The survey showed that almost half of young Japanese (43.6%) supported the idea and about one in five (18.2%) were against it with the rest (38.2%) saying they don’t know. Of those already inoculated or intending to be, more than half (57.1%) were in favor of the scheme. Those who do not intend to get a jab were equally divided with one in four (26.3%) both supporting and opposing the scheme with the rest (47.5%) saying they don’t know.

Specifically, over 40% of all the respondents (40.1%) said they favor vaccine passports if they lead to an exemption or relaxation of restrictions on visiting nursing homes and medical facilities (40.1%), on going to school or work (35.6%), and on domestic travel (35.0%)

(To be continued)

Why don’t you intend to get vaccinated?
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:48 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
Less Than Quarter of Japanese Youths Have Sexual Experience: Poll [2021年08月27日(Fri)]
Have you had a sexual experience?

Various surveys show that young Japanese, who were becoming more sexually active at one stage, have become less so in recent years. This was one of the reasons why The Nippon Foundation conducted an online survey between July 17 to 24 on the subject of “Sexual Activity”, covering 1,000 Japanese across the country aged between 17 and 19.

The poll found that less than one fourth of the respondents (23.6%) had had a sexual experience, of whom a little over one in five (22.2%) had their first experience at the age of 15 or younger.

When asked whether they find sex education at school useful, more than half (58.5%) answered yes with the rest (41.5%) saying no. Queried about what they wished had been covered in greater detail in school sex education, the top answer (40.9%) was “love and healthy sexual relationships.”

The poll also showed that a great majority of Japanese youths (94.6%) feel the need to use contraception unless they want to get pregnant or get someone pregnant.

Nearly three in five males (58.5%) said they used contraceptives, while only 6.4% said it is their partners who do. Almost the same percentage of females (5.2%) said they use contraceptives and more than half (56.0%) said it is for their partners to use them. It is noteworthy that about two in three (66.7%) males and almost three in four females (73.0%) are anxious about contraceptive methods.

Asked whether they have sufficient knowledge regarding sex, less than one in four (24.3%) answered in the affirmative and almost three in 10 (29.7%) in the negative, with less than half (45.9%) saying they don’t know.

Queried about who they would consult if they or their partner suspected or confirmed a pregnancy, their mother was listed highest by both males (40.5%) and females (50.6%), followed by friends (29.5% for males and 40.7% for females). But there were wide differences between men (28.8%) and women (6.5%) in choosing to consult with their father, while 17.4% said they would not consult with anyone.

Regarding the possibility of catching a sexually transmissible infection (STI), 40.4% said they are very worried and 39.9% are slightly worried. Nine in 10 (89.5%) said they have not caught an STI, while 1.1% said they have and 0.8% said they have even though they do not know its name.

When asked about a proposal now under consideration by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for making emergency contraception pills available without a prescription, more than 70% (71.4%) supported the idea with a small portion of them (5.5%) opposing it.

As reasons for supporting the proposal, most of them cited the need to act swiftly in case of rape or in case contraception fails (78.2%) and the need for as many options as possible to avoid unwanted pregnancy (65.1%). Many of those who opposed the proposal (76.0%) said that it would encourage an easy-going approach to having sex.

Under the Medical Practitioner’s Act, one needs a prescription issued by a medical practitioner to use an emergency contraception pill. Of course, young people should not have an easy-going attitude toward having sex. However, since such pills are ineffective unless taken within 72 hours of intercours, I believe the most realistic way is to make them available at drug stores without prescription as waiting for a doctor’s prescription could take too long. Therefore, I am in favor of the proposal.

Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, a lot more Japanese teenagers have sought pregnancy counseling. This prompted The Nippon Foundation to launch last year a pregnancy support project and set up an expert council on sex and pregnancy. We would like to use the findings of the latest survey in undertaking the support project and when making the council’s policy recommendations.

At what age did you have your first sexual experience?

Did you find sex education at school useful?

If you or your partner suspected or confirmed a pregnancy, who (other than your partner) would you consult?”
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 16:15 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
80% of Japanese Youths Find It Hard to Understand Preamble to the Constitution: The Nippon Foundation Poll (2) [2021年06月14日(Mon)]
Why do more than 80% of young people in Japan feel it is hard to understand the preamble to the Constitution of Japan. I believe one reason is that as pointed out by many observers, the charter was drafted in effect by GHQ (the General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers) shortly after the war, making it look like the product of translation with many sentences long and hard to understand. This was indicated in comments by some young Japanese polled, such as: “The wording of the preamble was difficult and it was hard to understand what it means as a whole” and “Sentences are too long.”

Of all respondents, 31.3% said the preamble should clearly mention Japanese values like history, traditions and culture, while 27.1% said it should not and 41.8% said they do not know.

Of those who said it should, notable opinions expressed were that the preamble should show Japan “in the shape of a democratic state with the Emperor as a symbol of national unity” (27.0%) and that it should specify “the philosophy of harmony and importance of family and home” (22.2%).

The constitution was promulgated on November 3, 1946, and came into effect on May 3, 1947. It comprises the preamble, 11 chapters and 103 articles. It has remained unamended for more than seven decades now.

Any constitutional amendment requires approval by two-thirds of both houses of the Diet (Parliament) and a majority in a national referendum. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has long pushed for amending the war-renouncing Article 9 to settle the status of Japan's Self-Defense Forces, along with other changes.

I have proposed that the constitution be “altered,” reflecting changes in society over time. It is the people who should think this over and decide. I believe the key is to make it more understandable and acceptable to the people by softening the tone of the messages and that is why I suggested we should use the word “alter” the constitution.

Above all, I hope the young people, who play a critical role in shaping the future of the country, will be more interested in the constitution as their own issue and think deeply about whether it should stay as it is or be altered.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:14 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
80% of Japanese Youths Find It Hard to Understand Preamble to the Constitution: The Nippon Foundation Poll (1) [2021年06月10日(Thu)]
Have you read, or do you have a recollection of having read the preamble to the Constitution of Japan?

There are stronger calls than before in Japan for debating whether to revise the country’s postwar constitution. One reason is the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted more people to advocate adding an emergency clause to the charter that would grant the government expanded powers when necessary.

In contrast with some European and other countries that have constitutional or legislative grounds to impose binding restrictions on the activities of individual citizens and businesses, Japan has seen COVID-19 expose the limits on the government's ability to respond to an emergency.

To examine how Japanese youths look at the issue, The Nippon Foundation conducted a nationwide online survey on the “Preamble to the Constitution” for five days from April 15, covering 1,000 people aged between 17 and 19. The preamble sets forth the underlying principles of the constitution, notably pacifism, popular sovereignty, the guarantee of fundamental human rights, representative democracy and internationalism.

Asked whether they have read the preamble, respondents were equally divided at 40.1% between those who have either read it or have a recollection of having read it and those who have not. The remaining 19.8% said they do not remember. Of those who have, more than half (55.9%) did so when they were in junior high school, followed by high school (28.9%) and elementary school (13.2%).

In response to a question as to whether the preamble was easy to understand, less than 20% (17.0%) said it was, while more than 80% (83.0%) said that it was either difficult to understand (48.6%) or there were points that they could not understand (34.4%).

The curriculum guidelines set by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology call for sixth graders and students of junior and senior high schools to take up the constitution in social studies classes.

This means the respondents of the survey studied the constitution not so long ago. I felt the survey showed young people in Japan are not familiar with the details of the constitution, raising anew the question of how the supreme law should be taught at Japanese schools.

(To be continued)

Did you consider the preamble to the Constitution of Japan to be easy to understand?
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 14:57 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
Six in 10 Japanese Youths Support Harsher Criminal Punishments for 18- and 19-Year-Olds: Poll [2021年05月14日(Fri)]
Bills have been submitted to the Diet (Parliament) to revise the Juvenile Law with effect from April 2022. Do you know about these moves?

Japan will lower the age of legal adulthood to 18 from the current 20 in April 2022 under the 2018 revision to the Civil Code, the first such change in about 140 years. This will allow 18- and 19-year-olds to, among other things, take out loans and credit cards and rent an apartment room without parental consent, although the legal age for smoking, drinking alcohol and legal gambling is set to remain at 20.

The Cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has also submitted to the current ordinary session of the Diet (Parliament) bills designed to revise the Juvenile Law to expand the scope of crimes for which 18- and 19-year-olds can be tried as adults in criminal courts. Currently, they can only be tried as adults if crimes are committed with intent and lead to a victim’s death, but proposed revisions would add crimes punishable by at least one year in prison, including robbery, rape and arson.

The proposed legislation would continue to put 18- and 19-year-olds under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Law as “designated juveniles” with all criminal cases involving them sent to family courts first. But it would also allow the media to disclose their names and photos once they are formally indicted of these crimes after they are sent back to prosecutors.

In 2016, the revision of the Public Offices Election Law lowered the voting age from 20 to 18, allowing 18- and 19-year-olds to vote in national and local elections.

To look into how young Japanese feel about these legal changes, The Nippon Foundation conducted an online survey on the subject of “Juvenile Law Revisions” from March 19 to 22, covering 1,000 youths aged between 17 and 19 across the country.

The survey found that about six in 10 of the respondents (60.2%) said they knew about the proposed Juvenile Law revisions. Of these, 14.6% said they are following the issue closely, while 45.6% said they are vaguely aware of the issue.

When asked about the proposed amendments that would expand the scope of crimes for which 18- and 19-year-olds can be tried as adults, almost six in 10 (58.2%) endorse the revisions and only 4.3% do not, with 37.5% saying they don’t know.

The proposed revisions would also lift a ban on disclosure by media outlets of names, photos and other information that would expose the identities of 18- and 19-year-olds once indicted for these crimes. The poll showed that more than two in five (43.3%) approve of the change while less than one in five (18.8%) do not. The rest (37.9%) said they don’t know.

The House of Representatives passed the Juvenile Law revision bills on April 20 and should the House of Councilors do so during the current session as the government hopes, the revision would take effect in April 2022 simultaneously with the revised Civil Code. If that happens, 18- to 19-year-olds would be treated as adults under the Civil Code, but would remain under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Law as “designated juveniles.”

When asked about this, almost one in three (32.0%) said they see it as strange the country has two laws that treat them differently. The respondents were divided almost evenly with 50.9% feeling uncomfortable with the term “designated juveniles” and 49.1% not so.

Critics of the Juvenile Law amendments have argued that youth aged 18 and 19 are still highly “malleable” and full of potential for change. I sincerely hope that the change to the law, especially the media disclosure of their identities, will not deprive them of the opportunities they have to rehabilitate themselves under the current law and that simply subjecting them to heavier punishment will not risk increasing their recidivism.

This was the 36th in the series of the awareness survey of 18-year-olds launched by The Nippon Foundation in October 2018, following the lowering of the nation’s voting age from 20 to 18 in 2016. The survey was designed to track the attitudes and awareness of 18-year-olds regarding politics, society, work, families, friends and other issues.

Do you agree with expanding the scope of crimes for which 18- and 19-year-olds can be tried as adults?
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:53 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
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