Thai court hands surrogate kids to Japanese father

Kong Suriyamontol

Shigeta, the son of a Japanese tycoon, left the country in the wake of the scandal but later sued Thailand's Ministry of Social Development and Human Security for custody of the children.

Surrogate babies were fathered by a Japanese businessman who has fled from Thailand are shown on a screen during a news conference at the headquarters of the Royal Thai Police in Bangkok August 12, 2014. the man was awarded sole custody of the children on February 20, 2018. According to her, Shigeta told the clinic's manager he "wanted to win elections and could use his big family for voting", and that "the best thing I can do for the world is to leave many children".

The children were estimated to be between two weeks and two years old at the time and have since been cared for by the Thai state, while another four were later deemed also to have been fathered by him.

The case has also spurred a crackdown on Thailand's largely uncontrolled surrogacy business.

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.

He reportedly hired many Thai women to bear his children in 2014.

"For the happiness and opportunities which the 13 children will receive from their biological father, who does not have a history of bad behaviour, the court rules that all 13 born from surrogacy to be legal children of the plaintiff", Bangkok's Central Juvenile Court said.

It said DNA evidence confirmed that Shigeta is the children's' father, and that he plans to send the children to an worldwide school and has bought a piece of land to house them next to a large park in central Tokyo, where they will be looked after by nurses and nannies. The man filed a lawsuit in 2015, seeking custody of them.

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

Little is known about Shigeta, described by the AP as litigious in protecting his identity.

Thai media says Mr Shigeta is unmarried, owns several companies himself and has already made plans for the future of his children, including setting up trust funds for them.

The 13 children will not immediately be transferred into Mr Shigeta's custody.

His lawyer, Kong Suriyamontol, said he would contact the ministry to discuss the next steps to transfer the children from state custody, but this could be delayed depending on the "readiness" of the youngsters, most of whom are aged about four.

On one occasion, a Thai surrogate mother accused an Australian couple of leaving behind one of their twin babies "Gammy" after discovering he had been born with Down syndrome. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries.

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