Thai Court Grants Custody to Japanese Father of 13 Surrogate Children

Posted 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.

A court in Thailand has ruled in favor of a Japanese man who has been seeking custody of 13 children he fathered with Thai surrogate mothers.

Multimillionaire Mitsutoki Shigeta, 27, caused an global incident in 2014 when Thai police found nine of his biological kids living with nannies in a plush Bangkok apartment.

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Reuters reports that after it was established Mitsutoki had no links to human trafficking, the court ruled for custody in his favour mainly due to his financial situation.

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. His lawyer said the man plans to raise the 13 children - all four-years-old - in 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. The Bangkok court ruling yesterday paved the way for him to take them to Japan.

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Growing up with a biological parent will also be in the children's best interests, the court added.

Thailand was rocked by several surrogacy scandals in 2014, including allegations that an Australian couple had abandoned their Down Syndrome baby with his Thai birth mother taking only his healthy twin sister back to Australia with them.

His Bangkok apartment was raided and the police found nine surrogate babies, nannies and a pregnant surrogate mother.

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His lawyer said he would contact the Social Welfare Ministry about the next steps to transfer the children from state custody, adding that the timeline would depend on the "readiness" of the youngsters, most of whom are aged around four.