Japanese man wins custody of 13 kids born to Thai surrogates

In this Aug 12, 2014 file photo, the media attend a press briefing where Thai police display projected pictures of surrogate babies born to a Japanese man who is at the center of a surrogacy scandal during a press conference at the police headquarters in Chonburi, Thailand. (AP)

A wealthy Japanese man was Tuesday granted “sole parent” rights to 13 children he fathered through Thai surrogate mothers, in a court ruling that paves the way for him to take them to Japan.

Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, became the centre of a “baby factory” scandal in 2014 after Thai police found a plush Bangkok apartment packed with infants under the care of 24-hour nannies. A probe later found he had fathered 19 children in total, 13 surrogate babies living in Thailand and six others living in Cambodia and Japan, according to an official from Thailand’s Social Development and Welfare Department. Four of the six children living in Cambodia and Japan were from Thai surrogates.

Shigeta’s bizarre case threw a spotlight on the kingdom’s unregulated rent-a-womb industry, prompting authorities to bar foreigners in 2015 from paying for Thai surrogates. Shigeta, reportedly the son of a Japanese IT tycoon, left the country in the wake of the scandal and has never directly explained why he fathered so many children. (AFP)

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