Adoption Ways of Unification Church Must Be Investigated
Japan and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare have asked the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (“Unification Church”), a controversial religious group prominent in Japan and Korea, to comply with laws and regulations regarding adoption procedures as it has been reported that there is adoption happening between different members (“Editorial”, 2023). The group once stated "giving up a child for adoption to a family that is not blessed with children is our beautiful tradition.", which confirms the suspicion (“Editorial”, 2023) .
Since 2018, adoption procedures in Japan require permission from prefectural governors when there is a mediating party, however, the Unification Church has not obtained such permission (“Editorial”, 2023). To avoid this, it stated that they have not been involved as an institution but later it was found that when an agreement happens between two families in the Unification Church, they were obliged to report it to the Home Education Bureau, which is essentially the institution being involved in an adoption (“Editorial”, 2023). As it was explained above, the Unification Church also recommends childless followers adopt from members with multiple children (“Ex-Unification Church revises handbook”, 2023)
This situation not only means that there are illegal activities being carried out in the institution, but also that children are being stripped away from their families due to the culture of the Unification Church. There have also been remarks from adoptees about the abuse they are subjected to in the family they were adopted by. With these actions, one must turn to the rights of children inscribed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (“CRC”) which Japan ratified in 1994 (Ratification Status for Japan, 2023).
According to Article 7(1) of CRC, the child, as far as possible, has the right to know and be cared from their parents, which the Unification Church is violating by giving children for adoption because other families might also want kids. Other members in a group wanting children is not a reason for children to be given away to adoption. Furthermore, Article 9 of the CRC provides that states must ensure that a child should not be separated from their parents against their will unless the competent authorities find it necessary for the best interest of the child. This might be a right under threat if the Unification Church is not consulting the children or the competent authorities are not interfering to consider the best interest of the child. A week ago, the government already started being involved (“Japan warns Unification Church”, 2023), however, there must be more action and enforcement of the law from the Japanese government regarding the actions of the Unification Church so rights of children as instructed by the CRC are no longer violated.
Sources and further reading:
‘Japan warns Unification Church over murky child adoption practice.’ (2023, January 23). Mainichi Shimbun. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230123/p2g/00m/0na/048000c
‘Editorial: Japan gov't needs to uncover Unification Church's murky adoption practice.’ (2023, February 2). Mainichi Shimbun.
‘Ex-Unification Church revises handbook that suggested it arranges adoptions.’ (2023, February 2) NHK News. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230201_22/
Human Rights Bodies. Ratification Status for Japan. United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies Database. https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=87&Lang=EN