Thai court hands surrogate kids to Japanese father

A Japanese man who became embroiled in a "baby factory" scandal four years ago has been granted sole custody of 13 children he fathered with Thai surrogate mothers. 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.

"It is clear that my client has nothing to do with human trafficking and no criminal charges have been pressed against him", the man's lawyer said, thanking the court for giving the utmost consideration to the children's happiness and welfare during its deliberations.

The Central Juvenile Court determined the 28-year-old man is the biological father of the children and found him capable of raising them because he is the founder and president of a company listed on a stock market.

His case contributed to the global 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.

Mitsutoki Shigeta's case raised eyebrows in 2014 when police raided a Bangkok condominium and found nine babies and nine nannies living in unfurnished rooms.

The barmy businessman has already ordered nurses and nannies to care for the kids in his native Japan.

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.

He later sued Thailand's Ministry of Social Development and Human Security for custody of the children - and won the case yesterday despite failing to appear in court. He was given the "sole parent" rights after the Thai surrogates surrendered their.

Thailand's rewriting of its surrogacy laws sparked a series of legal tussles, including a 14-month custody war between a same-sex couple and a Thai surrogate who was eventually forced to give up the baby girl.

  • Tracy Klein