Japanese gang runs adult 'adoptions'
Published: Nov. 2, 2010 at 10:28 PM
YOKOHAMA, Japan, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- An organized criminal enterprise is suspected of running a phony adult adoption business in Japan to help people get passports and loans illegally, police said.
Kanagawa prefectural police said in Yokohama 197 adoptions of 60 men and women, ages 30 through 60, took place in Tokyo and Kanagawa between February 2001 and August 2007, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported Tuesday.
Police say the scheme is probably based on the fact that a person's name would be changed after being adopted. The members of the organization could then illegally sell them passports.
The newspaper said the Family Registration Law and the Civil Code allow people to legally enter a parent-child relationship, regardless of their relationship. In adopting an adult, all that is required is an application form with the signatures and seals of the adoptive parent, the signature of the person being adopted and those of witnesses, and copies of their family registers. There is no legal limitation on the number of adoptions one can perform.
Thus, it is easy to be adopted, change names and get loans, even if the person is heavily in debt, the newspaper said.
Police said a 39-year-old South Korean woman, who was in Japan illegally, was arrested last year on suspicion of having a passport under the name of a 34-year-old Japanese woman. The Korean woman was deported.
The Japanese woman whose passport the Korean woman possessed admitted she was involved in getting the passport, police said.
"I have a lot of debt, so I had to change my surname so I could take out a new loan and for other reasons. I've been involved in nine adoptions so far. My adoptive fathers have been people involved with a gang, and some have been total strangers to me," the Japanese woman said.
"I gave my personal seal registration card and health insurance card to somebody involved with the gang, and they gave me 30,000 yen ($372) in return. I have no idea who is using a passport with my name on it," the woman said.