Japanese father granted sole custody of 13 surrogate children in Thailand

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A Japanese man has won sole custody of 13 children in Thailand after he fathered them with Thai surrogate mothers.

"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.

Shigeta's case raised eyebrows in 2014 when police raided the Niche ID condominium in Soi Lat Phrao 130 and found babies and nannies living in unfurnished rooms there with a Japanese secretary.

The case against the prolific baby maker is one of several scandals involving surrogate mothers that have led to the end to what was called the "rent-a-womb" industry in Thailand, which was previously unregulated.

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

The founder of the New Life clinic that provided Shigeta with two surrogate mothers Mariam Kukunashivili told the Associated Press in 2014 the Japanese man had political ambitions.

"He said he wanted 10 to 15 babies a year, and that he wanted to continue the baby-making process until he's dead", she said, adding that he asked about equipment to preserve sperm in old age.

The court accepted lawyer Kong Suriyamontol's argument that the man simply wanted a very large family, and that with his wealth, he will be able to look after the children well, BBC reported.

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The children are still in state custody, and the man is in talks with the Social Development and Human Security Ministry about the next steps.

Information from Tuesday's court decision and doctors and a fertility clinic has done little to lift the veil of mystery over Shigeta.

The man's lawyer explains his motivation for wanting so many children as "personal and business reasons". His lawyer said his client wanted to have dozens of babies because he hoped for a large family and believed they could inherit his wealth, Kyodo News reported.

A Bangkok court yesterday granted him legal rights to take the children, saying he had ample money to care for them and had prepared nurses and nannies at a safe residence in Japan. The children that he cared for in Japan now all have Japanese citizenship, it said. Cambodia inherited much of the surrogacy-for-hire business for foreigners after Thailand banned it, but later passed its own law against it.

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Another petitioner's counsel, Farogh Naseem, argued that there is a precedent of a court order against a political party's head. The Supreme Court ruled that a person disqualified under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution can not head a political party.

Officials from Thailand's social development and human security ministry told the court they had visited places where the man meant to raise the kids and "everything looks good", Kyodo reported.

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