Authorities reject man’s request for allowance for 554 adopted children

AMAGASAKI, Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) A municipal government in Hyogo Prefecture has rejected a resident’s application to obtain newly instituted child benefits after the man, a South Korean national, attempted to apply for 554 children who he said were adopted in Thailand, a city official said Saturday.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry issued earlier this month a notice detailing some conditions for children residing abroad and others to be eligible for the benefit, such as being in the same household and individually approved by the local municipal government.

In it, the ministry cites a case of a foreign national who has adopted 50 orphans in their home country as an example of being ineligible.

The monthly allowance, to be disbursed from June, is aimed at helping families with children and is set at ¥13,000 per child. In the man’s case, benefits would have totaled about ¥86 million per year for the 554 children.

The ministry said this is the first time that someone has tried to file an application for several hundred children at one time. The child benefit law enacted in March does not require residency in Japan for eligible children, generating concerns in some quarters about abuse.

According to the Amagasaki Municipal Government, the man, who appeared to be in his 50s, visited the city office on Thursday and applied for the child benefit by showing documents that he said were certified by Thai authorities, along with translations, that showed the names of the children and their birth dates.

The man said the children he adopted include those in a monastery in Thailand, where his wife comes from, according to the city.

Aware of the ministry’s earlier notice, the city immediately consulted the ministry and decided to turn down the application.

The applicant also carried records showing that he has been sending money to the children, the necessary documents by a foreign resident to make an application, and his passport to prove that he visited the children. The ministry requires at least two child visits per year, supported by passport records, for foreigners who have children abroad.

The city official said they do not know if all the documents were authentic as they did not accept the application.

After being briefed and rejected by staff, the man requested the name of the division at the ministry in charge of the allowance and its phone number before leaving the office, the city official said.