The Japanese government on Monday issued an administrative guidance to the Unification Church demanding it comply with the law amid allegations that it has arranged for child adoption between believers' families without authorization.
The religious group, which has been under scrutiny since former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot last year by the son of an adherent, says in one of its publications that it is a "beautiful tradition" of the group to give up a child for adoption by childless families.
The adoption mediation law stipulates that permission from a prefectural government is required for the mediation business. If unauthorized mediation recurs, violations of the law are suspected regardless of whether the service is remunerated.
It is the second guidance of the kind made to the group, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, following one in December.
The latest move came after the welfare ministry received responses from the church to its inquiries in November and December amid suspicions of illegality.
"We will continue to investigate in cooperation with relevant authorities," Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters, adding that the collected information has been also provided to investigative authorities.
While issuing the directive, the ministry also told the church that the government has received complaints from adoptees involved in the practice.
The ministry also requested that the contents of books related to the church be revised to make them acceptable, including the statement that "giving up a child for adoption to a family that is not blessed with children is our beautiful tradition."
The ministry noted that such a statement does not match the spirit of the child welfare law, which states that adoption should be considered when it is difficult for the biological parents to raise the child.
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