What is the situation of adult adoption in Japan?

2020-08-28 | Earth Knowledge Bureau Original |

Japan has one of the highest adoption rates in the world, recording more than 80,000 legal adoptions every year.

But different from the public perception, the Japanese adopted are not children. According to statistics, the number of children adopted through formal adoption agencies in Japan is only about 300 each year. Instead, more than 90% of the adoptees are 20 or 30-Year-old young male.

What is going on?

Ancient history

In Japan, the practice of adopting adults can be traced back to the 13th century. In Kyoto at that time, the Kyoto Honganji School of Jodo Buddhism the Japanese branch of Buddhism actively encouraged the abbot to marry and have children to meet the strict hereditary inheritance requirements of the sect.

Honganji Temple is the collective name of Pure Land Buddhism

It can also refer to any of the several temples related to the sect

Kyoto Higashi Hongan Temple

Photo: Jatuphon.PTH / Shutterstock▼

However, no one can guarantee that every time you get married, you will have a son, so adopting an adult has become a way for the sect to maintain the patriarchy and maintain the purity of the church. In terms of the source of adopted children, Honganji often asks for samuraiOr the courtiers and other upper-class families, and after identifying the candidates, they will be taught and cultivated.

Essentially, this kind of adoption is beneficial to both parties. Hongan Temple can have high-quality clergy and continue to enjoy prestige, while families who have given up their sons can brag about their relationship with the sect and use it when needed.Kind of relationship.

Japanese monks are just a job

Moreover, the income is good, and the social status is higher than the general occupation

Japanese shrines and other religious places are mostly father-to-child

No difference from family business

Michelle visited Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto during his visit to Japan

Picture: The white house ▼

After entering the Edo period, this adoption practice spread to the samurai class. Similarly, the needs of the samurai are to pass on the family name.

If a samurai family has only daughters, they often adopt a son from a samurai family of the same class, and give him their family name and let him be the head of the family; and their daughters can get married normally, andThe remaining influential samurai families are married. In this way, samurai families can pass on the patrilineal authority and establish a strong family position in society.

Japanese samurai is also a professional soldier

Initially divided into combat groups by clans

This professional feature is destined to be mostly male

picture: Okinawa Soba Rob/flickr▼

Then why are some samurai families willing to give up their son?

Like China and other Asian countries, Japan has long implemented the eldest son inheritance system. Only the eldest son can obtain family assets. The second and third sons have almost no inheritance rights and can only be wealthy idlers. If these second sons can be placed in needThe eldest son’s family is a good thing for the family, for the family, and for the children themselves.

The eldest son inherits family property, but also bears the responsibility of taking care of parents

And blood relationship is not the main consideration of Japanese inheritance system

The continuation of the family is the most important

Picture: wikipedia▼

So for these adopted children, being adopted is a way to leave the original family and obtain an independent status.

Soon, this adoption behavior spread beyond the samurai class and became a common phenomenon in society, but it was changed in a different way in future development.

During the Meiji Restoration and the following centuries, the three factors of urbanization, technological progress and war greatly affected the lives of Japanese people. On the one hand, Japanese families began to develop toward independence, and the multi-generational family structure gradually collapsed;On the other hand, more and more Japanese are embarking on the road of entrepreneurship in the dividends of the times and have their own companies and businesses.

Free market economy after economic reform

It will give birth to many industries and companies that meet the needs of the times

Photo: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com▼

However, many entrepreneurs are faced with an old headache, that is, the offspring of founders are often not as talented as themselves, or not in this industry. So gradually, adult adoption began to become oneThis kind of business development strategy is even more and more common in today’s middle and upper class Japanese society.

Modern form

Assuming that the CEO of a very successful Japanese company wants to retire, but his only son is not interested in taking over the company, and has already started his own business in other fields, and at this time it happens that an executive of the company is professional.Has already made a lot of contributions to the company and looks promising, so the CEO is likely to extend an "olive branch" to him, adopt him as his son, and let him be the heir of the company.

Not limited to large companies

More and more small and medium-sized private companies have begun to join the ranks of adopting sons

Picture: http://cnavideo.cna.com.tw/▼

This is a form of adopting adult sons in Japan nowadays-choosing outstanding young people to be adopted as adopted children in family businesses. This often happens when the head of a certain business’s own son is unable or unwilling to take over the family businessTime.

Compared with the Edo period, this kind of adoption often means the promotion of social status and class for adopted children. Because unlike the samurai adoptions that often occurred in the same class, CEOs now have no requirements for the birth of adopted children.As long as they have the ability to "make the company grow better", this can be a shortcut to achieve the great perfection of life for adopted children from mediocre backgrounds.

Compared to this kind of direct adoption, the more common form of adoption is to combine the adopted son and son-in-law, that is, to find a young man with strong ability to "marry" his daughter, by the way, be his son and take charge of the company.It is "mukoyoshi" mukoyoshi, むこようし. In the true sense, "a son-in-law and half a son".

This is different from our country’s "entertainment"

You must go through the adoption procedures first, and then marry your daughter to the "son"

The relationship between the son-in-law and the family is closer

Photo: Shalom Rufeisen / Shutterstock▼

Especially when the birth rate in Japan has been declining and many parents have only one daughter, the practice of finding a "son-in-law" has won the favor of old entrepreneurs.

But young people who meet the requirements are not so easy to find, so intermediary services for companies to introduce adopted children came into being.

Among the many matchmaking companies and marriage consultants that introduce adult adopted children, one of the most popular platforms is Shiawase Na Kekkon, a matchmaking website founded by Chieko Date. The platform is full of people who want to become adopted sons,Young and promising men try to realize their corporate dreams by being adopted children.

The son-in-law is only one of the businesses

Mainly to introduce international marriage, or DNA marriage

The founder pursues "marriage that never fails"

This pursuit itself is not reliable

Picture: http://shiawasenakekkon.com/▼

After successfully pairing with the adoptive family through this platform, the adoptive parents will conduct a thorough background check on the adopted child, and arrange a meeting between the two parties if they feel it is appropriate. If the meeting goes well, the prospective adopted child will be regarded as successful and begin to become familiar with the new companyUp.

However, regardless of the method of adoption, becoming an adopted child means giving up your surname. But for most Japanese people, this is not a big problem, because Japanese have a surname for more than 100 years-in the Meiji RestorationIn the past, only the gentry and the public had surnames. Moreover, giving up one's surname can quickly exchange personal success and business prospects, so it is not a loss-making business.

There are often nameplates with surnames outside Japanese houses

But it does not mean that the surname has a long history,

Most people have surnames but only two or three generations

Picture: deposit / Creativity of the image bug▼

It should be noted that there is a limit on the number of adults adopted by a company. If your family already has children, you can only adopt one at most, and if you don’t have two, you can adopt two. This rule is because someone used adoption to take advantage of the gap.Tax avoidance: Before 1988, there was no limit to the number of adoptions, and the more heirs in a family, the less inheritance tax that needed to be paid. Many people took advantage of this to adopt as many sons as possible, which forced the government to introduce laws to controlThe number of people who can be adopted.

It doesn't matter if you are not a pro, just make a profit

Since World War II, about 10% of business family successors have transferred control to their adopted children. Today, about 80,000 adult men in Japan are adopted each year and change their surnames to take over the family business.It seems to have become a routine operation used by enterprises to maintain vitality.

Many internationally renowned companies, such as the second-generation heads of Japanese automobile companies Toyota and Matsushita Electric, are the "adopted sons" of the founders, and the three generations of heads after the founder of Suzuki are also "adopted sons"The succession model is the same for Canon cameras and the soy sauce company Kikkoman. There is also the world's oldest family business, the Hoshi restaurant with a history of more than 1,300 years, which has been passed down according to the son-in-law model for 46 generations.

Suzuki Osamu, the fourth-generation head of Suzuki, formerly known as Matsuda Osa

Take over the Suzuki company after marrying the eldest daughter of the Suzuki family

During his tenure, Suzuki became one of the largest small car manufacturers in the world

Picture: Vibrant Gujarat / youtube▼

In the eyes of industry insiders, this is a powerful tool to keep family businesses healthy for a long time and to promote the flow of society and wealth.

Data can also illustrate the problem. Some researchers studied 1,433 non-financial companies listed on all stock exchanges in Japan from 1962 to 2000. About half of these companies still belong to the founding family.

Researchers divide the operators of these companies into: first-generation founder operations, descent heirs, non-descent heirs, and hired special-person operations. The results found that the founders did the best, followed by non-blood heirs Usually adopted children, and finally heirs of blood and hired professionals.

In terms of profitability based on the return on assets ROA, the performance of non-descent heirs is about 6% higher than that of descent heirs, and about 10% higher than professional operators.

The Master Hotel in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan is the second oldest hotel in the world

Has been passed down for more than 1,300 years

As for the selection of successors, most of them also adopt adoption system

It also ensures that the hotel can still operate very well today

Picture: Wikipedia▼

All in all, the performance of non-blood heirs is almost as good as the company run by the first-generation founder.

According to the "New Economy" magazine, adopting high-quality adopted children to run a family business plays an active role in three ways: one is to replace untalented family heirs, the other is to urge the adopted children to achieve better performance in order to maintain their position.It is to make internal heirs feel the pressure and the threat of "you will be replaced if you fail."

Most of the actors in modern Kabuki theater are still men

And the inheritance of a family is the eldest son

If there is no male, it will be adopted to achieve the purpose of continuing the family for a long time

Different from other industries, Kabuki needs to be cultivated, and the adoption age is also relatively small

Picture: lensonjapan / wikipedia▼

However, some internal heirs do not feel threatened at all, and even help their fathers find adopted children in private, before they arrive, take the initiative to give in and do things that make them happy.

But everything depends on good and bad. Even if the practice of adopting a son is conducive to the development of the family, it is not without harm. For example, at the private level, divorce between the adopted son and the daughter is very troublesome.

Generally, the property is divided directly after the divorce, but if they want to divorce to the point of divorce, they need to apply for "adoption divorce", which means that the man not only needs to terminate the relationship with the woman,It is also necessary to terminate the adoption relationship with the family; if the relationship is only dissolved, the man still has the right to inherit property after the divorce the man may not have any opinions, the woman may not be.

The current husband of the famous Japanese actress Ryoko Hirosue is the adopted son

Formerly known as Jun Izu, after marrying Ryoko, he changed his name to Jun Hirosue

Picture: http://www.votelouann.com▼

In other words, the divorce of the adopted son-in-law requires two divorce.

However, this kind of trouble is not worth mentioning in the face of family business development and personal class promotion.

From the current point of view, the practice of adopting sons will not disappear in the short term. Japan's birth rate has been falling sharply since 1950, and now it is only 1.4. Only when the fertility rate remains at 2.1 or above can the population continue to be preventedShrinking; at the same time, Japan’s aging population continues to increase, and it is estimated that by 2060, the proportion of Japan’s population over 65 may rise to 40%.

Japan is the most aging country

Cities and rural areas have gradually become "super old" societies

While fertility has been declining, aging and longevity are on the rise

Photo: Sarunyu L / Shutterstock▼

Too old to give birth to children, young to have no children, and adult adoption can directly screen out the most elite group of people. This may be a hybrid that only Japan, a special society, can evolve.The special mode of "appointing people on merit".






*The content of this article is provided by the author and does not represent the position of the Earth Knowledge Bureau

Cover image: Shalom Rufeisen / Shutterstock


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