A revised national referendum law that lowers the minimum voting age to 18 from the current 20 took effect Friday. The law, enacted by parliament a week ago, is seen as a crucial part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to amend the pacifist Constitution to enable Japan to play a greater security role. Changes to the Constitution can be initiated with the support of at least two-thirds of the lawmakers in both houses of parliament and must be endorsed by a majority of voters in a referendum.
The minimum voting age for national referendums will be lowered to 18 in four years’ time under the legislation, which had the support of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito, the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan and five other parties.
The issue of amending the Constitution, which has never been revised since its promulgation in 1946, continues to be a source of conflict among the political parties.