Japanese 'Baby Factory' Man Gains Custody Of 13 Surrogate Children

Who is Mitsutoki Shigeta? Japan's 'baby factory' man who fathered 13 children gets parental rights

Who is Mitsutoki Shigeta? Japan's 'baby factory' man who fathered 13 children gets parental rights

A wealthy Japanese man at the centre of a "baby factory" scandal in Thailand has won sole parental rights to 13 children he fathered through Thai surrogate mothers.

"For the happiness and opportunities the 13 children will receive from their biological father - who does not have a history of bad [behavior] - the court rules them to be the plaintiff's legal children", Thailand's Central Juvenile Court said in a statement.

The court case was launched in 2014 after Bangkok Interpol agents discovered nine babies living with nine nannies and little else in a luxury condominium.

A photo taken in 2014 showing Thai nannies with nine of the babies that are believed to have been fathered by Japanese man Mitsutoki Shigeta.

Surrogacy agencies quickly migrated to neighbouring Cambodia, who followed suit and barred the industry in 2016.

Mariam Kukunashvili, founder of the New Light clinic in Thailand that recruited some of the babies' surrogate mothers, told the AP in 2014 that Shigeta told her "he wanted 10 to 15 babies a year and that he wanted to continue the baby-making process until he's dead".

When the case was lodged in 2014, police had said the man was aged 24.

They were subsequently cared for by the Thai state, while another four infants were deemed also to have been fathered by the same man.

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A Japanese lawyer who reportedly represented Shigeta refused to discuss the case, and officials at Hikari Tsushin were not available for comment Wednesday.

His lawyer, Kong Suriyamonthon, said his reason for having so many children is for "personal and business reasons".

"I've never seen a case like this", the Thailand director of Interpol said about what the country dubbed the "baby factory", after tips led the worldwide policing group to investigate amid concerns of human trafficking.

During the trial, Shigeta produced evidence of financial means and a plan to care for the children, including drafted bank accounts and a home near a park in Tokyo, the AP reported.

Shigeta's case, along with several others, helped usher in a Thai law prohibiting commercial surrogacy for foreign clients.

The Thai court said Tuesday that Shigeta plans to send the children to an global school and is preparing a house for them in Tokyo, where they will be looked after by nurses and nannies.

The man had his sperm fertilise donor eggs, which were then planted in the wombs of the surrogate mothers in 2013, according to a press statement given by the court.

Shigeta "was born into a big family and wanted the children to grow up together", the lawyer said, adding that he also wanted the kids to help run his family's business.

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