Japanese baby factory man wins custody of 13 children
In a bizarre case, a young businessman dubbed the Japanese baby factory man wins custody of 13 children which he all fathered from surrogate mothers.
On February 20 2017, a Thai court granted sole custody of 13 children to a reclusive Japanese businessman in a bizarre and controversial legal battle. Dubbed the Japanese baby factory man, he fathered these babies through surrogate mothers.
In 2014, Bangkok Interpol agents discovered nine babies living with nine nannies in an almost bare-bones luxury condominium in Bangkok, sparking a court case that same year.
The strange case of the Japanese baby factory man
Acting on a tip off, the agents described the arrangement as perplexing. The authorities found the kids, aged two weeks to two years old, living in an unfurnished apartment with few belongings. What possessions they did have were just bouncy chairs, playpens, diapers, and baby bottles.
This discovery raised alarms for authorities, who feared that they had stumbled into a weird human trafficking or child exploitation issue.
“What I can tell you so far is that I’ve never seen a case like this,” Police Major General Apichart Suribunya, Thailand’s Interpol Director, tells the Associated Press.
“We are trying to understand what kind of person makes this many babies,” he says.
The odd recluse
The Japanese baby factory man is Mitsutoki Shigeta, a single, 28 year-old son of a Japanese IT billionaire.
Apart from the nine babies they discovered, the police learned that the Japanese baby factory man had more babies elsewhere. There are four more Thai children, and three kids in India. Authorities believed that the Japanese baby factory man could have fathered around 20 children.
The Telegraph reports that the Shigeta left Thailand after officials removed the kids from the Bangkok apartment and the press started reporting on the case. Shigeta is said to be a notoriously private man with no criminal record.
Afterwards, he sued the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security of Thailand for custody of all 13 Thai kids. In total, he hired 11 Thai surrogate mothers to bear and carry his kids.
A parent of 13 kids
Eventually, the Bangkok Central Juvenile and Family Court decided in favor of Shigeta. They returned the kids to Shigeta as the sole parent. According to the Washington Post, the court ruled “that he is financially stable and had showed his plans to care for them.”
The court also determined that the Japanese baby factory man did not, in any way, exhibit behaviour linking him to human trafficking.
During the court proceedings, Shigeta was absent, but said through his lawyer that he grew up in a large family and just wanted a child of his own. He added that he has the resources to support kids.
He wants more
While the proceedings were underway in 2014, the Associated Press reported on the strange case of the Japanese baby factory man:
“The founder of a multinational fertility clinic that provided Shigeta with two surrogate mothers said she warned Interpol about him even before the first baby was born in June 2013.
“‘As soon as they got pregnant, he requested more. He said he wanted 10 to 15 babies a year, and that he wanted to continue the baby-making process until he’s dead,’ said Mariam Kukunashvili, founder of the New Life clinic, which is based in Thailand and six other countries. He also inquired about equipment to freeze his sperm to have sufficient supply when he’s older, she said in a telephone interview from Mexico.”
Kukunashvili related how Shigeta “wanted to win elections and could use his big family for voting.” He then added that “the best thing I can do for the world is to leave many children.”
An odd character
The Associated Press interviewed one of the surrogate mothers, a sidewalk food vendor, whom Shigeta recruited through an online service. The surrogate mom described Shigeta as “tall with shaggy, shoulder-length hair, and dressed casually in jeans and a wrinkled, button-down shirt he left untucked.”
“He didn’t say anything to me,” she told AP.
She also said that she was paid $10,000 to carry his child. “He never introduced himself. He only smiled and nodded. His lawyer did the talking.”
The “rent-a-womb” industry
This case is one of several scandals that exposed the mysterious and bizarre “rent-a-womb” industry in Thailand. Eventually this led to the end of the industry, which has, for years, been unregulated.
In spite of this, however, foreigners have been barred from paying for Thai surrogates since 2015.
With regards to the fate of the children, The Washington Post reports that Shigeta is planning to enrol his children in an international school. He also bought a piece of land in central Tokyo where he can house them next to a large park. There, the kids will be taken care of by nurses and nannies.
Featured image: YouTube screengrab
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