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Japanese 'baby factory' dad wins custody of 13 Thai surrogate children

Japanese 'baby factory' dad wins custody of 13 Thai surrogate children”

A Thai court yesterday granted legal custody of 13 babies carried by surrogate mothers to a Japanese millionaire who is their biological father, reviving a freakish tale that captured tabloid headlines four years ago. Nine babies along with seven nannies and a pregnant Thai woman were found at an apartment house in Bangkok's Bang Kapi district in August 2014.

"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.

Thirteen babies were taken into care in 2014 and have been watched over by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

Shigeta, dubbed "baby factory" man, had made headlines in 2014 when it was found that he had fathered 16 babies via surrogates in Thailand.

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.

Four of the six children living in Cambodia and Japan were from Thai surrogates.

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

On Tuesday, the Bangkok court said in its ruling that since Shigeta belongs to a wealthy family, he had enough money to take care of the children.

The court gave no further details about the man, but said he plans to raise the 13 children in Japan where he lives, adding that he had previously raised his other surrogate children in Cambodia and Japan.

Growing up with a biological parent will also be in the children's best interests, the court added. Police told AFP that he had paid the Thai surrogate mothers between $9,300 and $12,500 each.

In 2015, the law was changed to make commercial surrogacy illegal.



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