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Japanese businessman wins custody of 13 children born to Thai surrogates

The Central Juvenile and Family Court in Bangkok today (Feb 20) granted a Japanese businessman Mitsutoki Shigeta, parental rights to 13 children born to Thai surrogate mothers, ending almost four years of the scandal that broke out in 2014.

The decision to declare the Japanese man father of the 13 children born via surrogacy was based on reasons that not only the Japanese man's caring for the children he fathered but also on his well established background.

The statement released today by the court said For the happiness and opportunities which the 13 children will receive from their birth father, who does not have a history of bad behaviour, all children born through surrogacy will be legal children of the plaintiff.

Mr Shigeta, the son of a Japanese tycoon, left the country in the wake of the scandal in 2014 but later sued Thailand's Ministry of Social Development and Human Security for custody of the children in the court for parental rights of the 13 children he fathered.

He didn't appear in the court today to hear the ruling but has a Thai lawyer attending on his behalf.

The court said further that the plaintiff was the sole parent after the Thai surrogates had signed off their rights.

The court said as the plaintiff came from a wealthy family, has ample money and has prepared nurses and nannies to care of the children in Japan, and also in Thailand when they were in the custody of the Social Welfare Ministry, since the scandal broke out in 2014.

Besides the court reasoned that Shigeta hired the Thai surrogates before Thailand banned the surrogacy trade in 2015, following a string of scandals and custody tussles.

Shigeta caused a baby factory scandal in 2014 after Thai police said DNA samples linked him to nine infants found in a Bangkok apartment, plus at least four other babies born by surrogates.

The case push authorities to prohibit foreigners from paying for Thai surrogates in 2015 as the country was facing international pressure on human trafficking trade

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)