Taiwan’s Executive Yuan today approved the proposal to amend the age of majority from 20 to 18.

The amendment would also unify the legal age for marriage to 18 for both men and women. Once the amendment is in effect, those above 18 would also be able to enjoy expanded rights.

Under the current Civil Code, for example, a 19-year-old college student has no legal authority to sign a rental contract or open a bank account without a legal guardian. The age restriction has caused inconveniences for teenagers who would like to have a higher degree of independence once they move out of their hometowns.

Executive Yuan Minister without Portfolio Lo Ping-cheng said at a press conference that the legal age in the Civil Code was set 91 years ago, when the ruling government was still in China. Taiwan’s current education and the maturity level of teenagers are vastly different from the past, Lo said, and the legal amendment would encourage more teeangers to engage with society.

The legal age in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, among other countries, is set at 18 years old, Lo said. Japan also lowered its legal age of adulthood to 18 two years ago.

In Taiwan, the age of majority for criminal and administrative punishment is already set at 18, and it could cause discrepancies in citizen’s rights and responsibilities if the Civil Code maintained a legal age of 20.

Premier Su Tseng-chang said teenagers are important forces behind societal development and they represent the future of the country. The amendment is a response to popular demands by student representatives, civic groups, and academia, Su said.

He also noted that since the amendment would involve changes in a large number of related clauses and citizen rights, it would require at least two years to take effect, by 2023.

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TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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