We Don’t Become Adults, but are Told to Be Adults: The Emergence of Adultification in Japan


The long-standing debate over perceptions of children has been an aporia for centuries in Japan. Those concerned alternately view children as needing protection and guidance or as independent beings that are naturally endowed with an innate ability for self-determination. The dividing line between adult and child within the legal, political, and educational frameworks produces a similar conflict, and the line for Japanese jurisdictions was redefined in 2022. However, questions remain about the lack of data supporting this legal judgment, particularly in the juvenile justice system, and about a policy-making process that addresses an imagined "public" and disregards those most affected, i.e. the children themselves. This study analyzes the discourse surrounding the debate and interrogates the forces that deemphasize children's vulnerability.

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Published: 2023-06-01
Pages:111 to 123
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How to Cite
Udagawa, Y. (2023) “We Don’t Become Adults, but are Told to Be Adults: The Emergence of Adultification in Japan”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 12(2), pp. 111-123. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2450.

Author Biography

The University of Tokyo

Yoshie Udagawa is a Project Researcher at Tokyo College, the University of Tokyo. Her research focuses on critical conceptual shifts regarding the concept of childhood that Japanese society has experienced since the 1990s. Her academic interests include media representation, public opinion, juvenile delinquency, and juvenile justice system.