By Flora Carr
February 20, 2018

A Japanese man who became embroiled in a “baby factory” scandal four years ago has been granted sole custody of 13 children he fathered with Thai surrogate mothers.

Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, won custody on Tuesday, after taking the Thai government to court over his paternal rights, AFP reports. The court ruled that Shigeta, reportedly the son of a Japanese business tycoon, has ample means to care for such a large family.

“For the happiness and opportunities the 13 children will receive from their biological father — who does not have a history of bad [behavior] — the court rules them to be the plaintiff’s legal children,” Thailand’s Central Juvenile Court said in a statement.

In 2014, Shigeta, who is unmarried, was at the center of an international scandal after a luxury apartment in Bangkok was raided and found to contain nine children and their seven 24-hour nannies. It soon emerged that Shigeta had fathered 19 children in total, with 13 babies born to surrogate mothers living in Thailand, and six living in Cambodia and Japan. Police told AFP that he had paid the Thai surrogate mothers between $9,300 and $12,500 each.

His case contributed to the international 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.

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