Welfare ministry again urges ex-Unification Church to follow adoption laws

Japan's welfare ministry has again urged a religious group once called the Unification Church to abide by the relevant laws and regulations on adoptions among its followers.

The ministry sent a document to the organization asking it to stop arranging adoptions without permits. In December, the ministry issued the first administrative guidance to the group instructing it to abide by the laws.

The adoption issue has been in the spotlight since the group acknowledged that it recommends childless followers to adopt the children of other members. It said 745 children have been adopted within the group since 1981. Experts have pointed out that the unauthorized practice could violate a law on mediating adoptions.

The ministry has received reports from the group after sending letters of inquiry twice.

It decided to issue a second administrative guidance after closely examining the testimonies of those involved in the adoptions and a handbook published by the group.

Welfare minister Kato Katsunobu told reporters on Monday that the ministry will provide collected information on adoption cases within the group to the investigative authorities. He added that the ministry will continue to research the matter in cooperation with the relevant organizations.