World

Japanese man wins custody of 13 kids born to Thai surrogates

BANGKOK A wealthy Japanese man was granted "sole parent" rights to 13 children he fathered through Thai surrogate mothers. The Bangkok court ruling yesterday paved the way for him to take them to Japan.

Mr Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, became the centre of a "baby factory" scandal in 2014 after Thai police said DNA samples linked him to nine infants found under the care of 24-hour nannies in a plush Bangkok apartment.

The children were estimated to be between two weeks and two years old at the time and have since been under the care of the Thai state, while another four were later deemed to have been fathered by him.

The discovery threw a spotlight on the kingdom's then unregulated rent-a-womb industry, and helped push authorities to bar foreigners from paying for Thai surrogates in 2015.

Mr Shigeta, the son of a Japanese tycoon, took the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to court for custody of the children. The Thai court granted him legal rights and said he had ample money to care for the children . - AFP