Japan man wins custody of 13 kids born to surrogates

Kong Suriyamontol

A wealthy Japanese man was granted "sole parent" rights to 13 children he fathered through Thai surrogate mothers.

Shigeta, who did not attend the trial, was deemed "sole parent" of the children after the Thai surrogates had signed away their rights, the court added.

Bangkok's Central Juvenile Court on Tuesday upheld his claim after Thai officials checked that he had enough carers and facilities to give the children a good home. The court did not reveal the man's name during the hearing. The founder of the New Life clinic that provided Shigeta with two surrogate mothers Mariam Kukunashivili told the Associated Press in 2014 the Japanese man had political ambitions.

Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, became the centre of a "baby factory" scandal in 2014 after Thai police linked him via DNA to nine infants found under the care of 24-hour nannies in a plush Bangkok apartment.

However, the controversy surrounding his case, and another where an Australian couple were accused of abandoning a surrogate baby born with Down's Syndrome - the "Baby Gammy" dispute - has led to Thailand banning commercial surrogacy for foreigners.

The man is the son of a Japanese tycoon and the president of a company listed on the stock exchange as well as an investor in several other businesses, the court noted. His lawyer said the man plans to raise the 13 children - all four-years-old - in Japan.

Picture: Baby and man's hands. The women delivered babies in 2014 but before Shigeta had taken them home an investigation by Interpol was launched against him, alleging he was into human trafficking.

Shigeta paid surrogate mothers around $10,000 each for carrying the fertilized donor eggs in their wombs. His lawyer, Kong Suriyamonthol, also refuted the allegations and said Shigeta had grown up in an extended family and had always wanted a large family of his own following which he was given parental rights of three of his children in 2015.



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