Unification Church requested ‘application forms’ for adoption between followers

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The headquarters of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

The Unification Church requested that “adoption application forms” be submitted for adoptions arranged among its followers, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The group, officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, admitted to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry that it used such forms, but denied any involvement in arranging the adoptions, saying it was “merely requesting reports in order to understand the family relationships among followers.”

The ministry is investigating the Unification Church’s involvement in the adoption process.

A book published by the group this year states that application forms must be submitted in advance. The welfare ministry wrote to the Unification Church requesting details about the situation and received a response by Monday.

“There are points that require further confirmation,” Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato said at a press conference Friday, stating that the ministry intended to send another letter with additional questions as early as that day, and ask the Unification Church to respond by Dec. 19. He said the ministry would also send a letter requesting the organization to follow the law on adoption arrangements.

The ministry has not revealed the contents of the group’s reply, but according to sources, application forms were submitted to the Unification Church for 745 adoptions that took place between 1981 to May this year. The forms were compiled into a database, and the original forms for the most recent cases are said to be in storage.

Among these adoptions, 31 were arranged after April 2018, when a law came into effect requiring adoption mediation agencies to obtain official approval.

The Unification Church insists that “all adoptions were based on personal relationships among followers, and the Church had nothing to do with the legal processes,” saying application forms for all 31 cases were submitted to different churches among the group’s approximately 280 churches nationwide, with some forms handed in after the adoption process was complete.

The law requires agencies to obtain prefectural government approval in order to make adoption arrangements continuously, with up to one year in prison or a fine of up to ¥1 million for offenders. The Unification Church has not obtained this type of permission.

Kato had previously said that if the Unification Church’s actions conflicted with the law, “Criminal prosecution may be implemented, along with administrative guidance.”