Thirty-one adoptions took place among followers of the Unification Church after it became mandatory for adoption mediation agencies to obtain approval in April 2018, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
The group, officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, denies any involvement in arranging the adoptions, stressing that the cases were agreed upon among its followers, according to sources.
The group's claim was part of a response sent Friday to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. The ministry is conducting an investigation into the group, which has not been authorized to mediate adoptions.
From 1981 to May this year, 745 children were adopted among members of the group. Of them, 31 adoptions were reported to the group after April 2018, according to sources.
The response submitted to the ministry included the dates of the adoptions, the branch that the relevant followers belong to and the circumstances of the adoptions.
The group stated that all of the adoptions were arranged privately among the followers, and it was not involved in any of the legal procedures. The Unification Church also stressed that no money changed hands in connection with the adoptions.
"The group only requested reports on the adoptions in order to understand the family relationships of the followers. They were not institutionally mediated adoptions," a Unification Church official told The Yomiuri Shimbun.
The enactment of the adoption agency law in April 2018 made it mandatory for adoption mediation agencies to obtain approval to operate. Before then, they only had to report their activities to relevant local governments.
Penalties were also established for unauthorized mediation under the adoption agency law.
The ministry had requested the group to provide details about the adoptions among its followers by Monday.
Based on the findings of its investigation, the ministry will consider issuing administrative guidance and seeking criminal prosecution, among other options.
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