What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?
There is no publicly available government data on child marriage in Japan.
Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that women and girls are somehow inferior to men and boys.
There is limited information on child marriage in Japan.
What has this country committed to?
Japan has committed to eliminating child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. During its Voluntary National Review at the 2017 High Level Political Forum, the government noted that child marriage is a challenge in developing countries.
Japan co-sponsored the 2017 Human Rights Council resolution recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts.
Japan co-sponsored the 2013 and 2014 UN General Assembly resolutions on child, early and forced marriage, and the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage. In 2014, Japan signed a joint statement at the Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.
Japan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1994, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1985, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
During its 2016 review, the CEDAW Committee expressed regret that Japan’s Civil Code still sets the minimum age of marriage as 16 for girls and 18 for boys. It recommended that Japan amend this to be 18 for girls as well.
At the Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.
What is the government doing to address this at the national level?
During its 2018 Universal Periodic Review Japan outlined potential plans for raising the minimum age of marriage and agreed to examine recommendations related to this. A proposed revision to Japan’s Civil Code will see the minimum age of marriage increased to 18 for both women and men.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under the Japanese Civil Code the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years for boys and 16 years for girls. A person who is under 20 years of age cannot get married in Japan without parental approval.
Girl Summit 2014, The Girl Summit Charter on Ending FGM and Child, Early and Forced Marriage, [website], 2015, (accessed February 2018)
Government of Japan, Japan’s Voluntary National Review, Report on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, 2017, (accessed April 2018)
Human Rights Watch, Japan Moves to End Child Marriage, [website], 2018, (accessed April 2018)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, (accessed April 2018)
UN CEDAW Committee, Concluding observations on the combined seventh and eighth periodic reports of Japan, 2016, p.3, (accessed March 2018)
UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Japan, 2018, p.7, (accessed March 2018)
United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)
* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)