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

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A Japanese man who is the father of 13 surrogate children has been named their legal parent and only guardian by a court in Thailand.

When the case was lodged in 2014, police had said the man was aged 24.

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

Several Japanese magazines and online publications nonetheless identified him as a son of Japanese tycoon Yasumitsu Shigeta, founder and chief executive officer of the Japanese communications and technology company Hikari Tsushin.

The children are now set to join three other infants Mr Shigeta was granted custody of in 2015.

Picture: Baby and man's hands.

Shigeta, the son of a wealthy entrepreneur, left Thailand soon after the accusations, but he later sued the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security for custody of the children.

The court said the man did not have links to human trafficking and part of the reason he has been given custody is due to his financial position. It is a criminal offence to advertise that you are looking for a surrogate or willing to act as one.

Shigeta was absent from court but has said through his lawyer that he comes from a large family and simply wanted one of his own.

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"He didn't say anything to me", said Wassana, a sidewalk food vendor who took on the surrogacy job to help pay her rent.

Shigeta, who allegedly wanted to start a "big family", has been providing the children English and Japanese tuition while they've been in government care these past few years. "He never introduced himself. His lawyer did the talking".

"He said he wanted 10 to 15 babies a year, and that he wanted to continue the baby-making process until he's dead", Kukunashvili told the AP in 2014.

This resulted in the babies being taken into care and since 2015 the father has been attempting to gain custody, according to Reuters.

The Thai court said Tuesday that Shigeta plans to send the children to an global school and is preparing a house for them in Tokyo, where they will be looked after by nurses and nannies. The children that he cared for in Japan now all have Japanese citizenship, it said.

Growing up with a biological parent will also be in the children's best interests, the court added.

After Thailand clamped down on the trade surrogacy agencies quickly migrated to Cambodia, which followed suit and barred the industry in 2016.

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.