Thailand court gives Japanese man custody of his 13 surrogate babies

Jon Howard
February 21, 2018

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.

28-year-old wealthy Japanese businessman, Mitsutoki Shigeta, has just been named the legal parent and sole guardian to 13 surrogate babies he fathered with nine Thai surrogate mothers. Nine babies along with seven nannies and a pregnant Thai woman were found at an apartment house in Bangkok's Bang Kapi district in August 2014.

Several years after a ward of babies born by Thai surrogates for an eccentric Japanese millionaire set off a legal battle, a court Tuesday awarded custody of 13 babies to the man.

His case contributed to the worldwide outcry against Thailand's "rent a womb" industry, and led to the Protection for Children Born Through Assisted Reproductive Technologies Act (ART Act) in 2015, preventing foreigners from paying for Thai surrogates.

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The case of the surrogate babies came to light in 2014 when the police said they found 16 babies the man fathered with surrogate mothers in Thailand, BBC reported.

Shigeta paid surrogate mothers around $10,000 each for carrying the fertilized donor eggs in their wombs.

"The foster homes will seek my authorisation to release the children to their father's custody ... it won't take more than 10 days", Vitat Tachaboon of the Social Development and Welfare Department told reporters. "It is clear that my client has nothing to do with human trafficking and no criminal charges have been pressed against him", his lawyer Kong Suriyamonthon said, quoted in Kyodo News. The Bangkok court ruling yesterday paved the way for him to take them to Japan. "He has personal and business reasons". 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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