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21 February 2018, 06:40 | Katrina Lee
Who is Mitsutoki Shigeta? Japan's 'baby factory' man who fathered 13 children gets parental rights
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 freaky tale that captured tabloid headlines four years ago.
Reports in Thai media in 2014 said he had fathered 16 children in Thailand, but the court's decision mentioned only 13. Thai officials also told the court they visited Cambodia and Japan and found the man had enough facilities to bring up the 13 children.
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 children that he cared for in Japan now all have Japanese citizenship, it said.
"The petitioner is an heir and president of a well-known company listed in a stock exchange in Japan, owner and shareholder in many companies, and receives dividend of more than 100 million baht ($3.18 million) from a single company in a year, which shows the petitioner has professional stability and an ample income to raise all the children", a statement from the court read.
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The so-called "Baby Factory" case emerged in 2014, when Thai police found nine babies living with nine nannies in his apartment in Bangkok and then linked his DNA to four other infants born from surrogate mothers.The case helped highlight the largely unregulated and lucrative commercial surrogacy business in the country.
The court ruling said Shigeta had a right to custody because the children were born before the new law, and because the surrogate mothers waived their custody rights.
Shigeta's mother has also been visiting the children in Thailand and "they have got used to her", he added.
Shigeta, who did not attend the trial, was deemed "sole parent" of the children after the Thai surrogates had signed away their rights, the court added. He carried out a three-year legal battle for custody, although he was not present in court on Tuesday as he left Thailand when the case emerged.
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