Adoption for a new ID: recent scandals of adult adoption

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Adoption for a new ID: recent scandals of adult adoption

Post by satoshi on Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:19 pm

Currently in Japan, abusive use of adult adoption evinces itself to surface in the course of several crime investigations. It is reported that those with difficulty in paying off their debts or with bad credit reports get to know each other through the internet and adopt each other in order to obtain new family names. Their intention for adoption is focusing on escaping from their debts or making additional debts showing their new identification. According to a news report, some of these people are forced to adopt or be adopted by their vicious lenders, who are related to gang groups (Asahi Shimbun, Nov 1, 2010). The worst scenario is murder of the members of such “adoption circles.” It is reported that a man forced a woman to become his adopter and to enter a life insurance contract and then killed her (Mainichi Shimbun, Nov 7, 2010).

Then, why such an outrageous practice of adult adoption can occur in Japan? The reason is simple: it is too easy to complete adult adoption in Japan. You may legally adopt or be adopted by just submitting an adoption form to a family registration office in the municipality, if both you and the other party are adults. There is almost no legal limitation on who may adopt or may be adopted with some exceptions (cf. you cannot adopt someone who are older than you). Procedure for adult adoption is very quick and easy. You do not have to obtain court orders or to make an oath before designated officials. You just co-sign a form and submit it to the office. When the officers receive the form, the adoption is legally completed. Technically speaking, adoption is void if either party lacks the intention to actually create a parent-child relationship, but there is no legal mechanism to ensure that both of the applicants really have such intentions.

Such easy adoption procedures have been long accepted in Japan. Japanese people favored such simplicity because adult adoption has been practiced quite regularly among Japanese people to obtain an heir to the family name or family assets. The heir is usually a relative, in many cases, a son-in-law. There is no statistical data to inform the exact number of adult adoption, it may be estimated that there are around 60,000 adult adoptions in Japan. Researchers have argued that it is unrealistic to introduce complex legal procedures for adult adoption, which would cause tremendous inconveniences for many people in our society.

Therefore, there has been little social pressure to reform the adult adoption law so far. However, the government is now worried about the criminal abuse of adult adoption as described above. According to a newspaper, the Ministry of Justice has conducted an investigation of suspicious cases of adult adoption reported by the family registration offices around the state and is now considering the measures to deal with this problem (Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov 3, 2010).

Smiley (aharada@aoni.waseda.jp)

satoshi
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