Thai court hands surrogate kids to Japanese father

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Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, was living in Hong Kong in 2014 when he became the centre of a "baby factory" scandal, after Thai police found a plush Bangkok flat packed with infants under the care of 24-hour nannies.

A court in Thailand on Tuesday named a wealthy Japanese man the legal parent and sole guardian of 13 surrogate children he fathered, Reuters reported.

"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.

Thai officials had visited Shigeta's homes in Japan as well as in Cambodia and deemed the children would be able to adapt to new surroundings. Police told AFP that he had paid the Thai surrogate mothers between $9,300 and $12,500 each.

Thirteen babies were taken into care in 2014 and have been watched over by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

It also determined Shigeta did not demonstrate behavior linking him to human trafficking. Plus, he has the means to support it.

"'As soon as they got pregnant, he requested more".

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"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.

In all he hired 11 Thai surrogate mothers to carry his children.

She described him in an interview with The Associated Press as tall, with shaggy, shoulder-length hair, and dressed casually in jeans and a wrinkled, button-down shirt he left untucked.

The scandal at the time shone an worldwide spotlight on Thailand's largely unregulated surrogacy business, prompting authorities to crack down on clinics with nationwide inspections and later to ban commercial surrogacy.

When asked why the man would want so many children at the same time, Kong said: "He has personal and business reasons". "He never introduced himself. His lawyer did the talking".

Thailand's rewriting of its surrogacy laws sparked a series of legal tussles, including a 14-month custody war between a same-sex couple and a Thai surrogate who was eventually forced to give up the baby girl.

The Washington Post says Shigeta plans to send the children to an global school and has bought a piece of land to house them next to a large park in central Tokyo, where they will be looked after by nurses and nannies.

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