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In Japan, the vast majority of legal adoptions — more than 90 percent — are of adults and are usually carried out for inheritance or family succession purposes. A house with only daughters, say, will adopt a grown man who can maintain the family business and family name.

The remaining adoptions are all of infants who will likely never be told by their adoptive parents that they are, in fact, adopted. These children can learn they were adopted later in life since the fact is recorded in the family register, but if a person isn’t looking for it, he or she can easily go through life never knowing.

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