Latest (Thursday): A fertility centre founder made repeated warnings to Interpol
and media outlets a year ago over the never-ending demand for more surrogate
mothers from the Japanese man at the centre of a human trafficking probe, but
they went unheeded. he planned to father up to 1000 babies suspected for his trafficking.
Thai police are investigating a suspected human trafficker and his Bangkok
“baby factory” after discovering that he fathered 15 babies to 11 surrogate
mothers and took four of the babies abroad this year.
Mitsutoki Shigeta, 24, who is Japanese, fled from Thailand to Macau last week after his apartment
in Bangkok was raided by the authorities, who were alerted by a tip-off from
Police found nine surrogate babies, aged six months to a year, with their
nannies, and a pregnant surrogate mother, in the apartment. Later DNA tests
demonstrated that Shigeta was the father.
Additional birth certificates showed that Shigeta had fathered another six
children in Thailand. Thai police said they thought that Shigeta, who is from a
wealthy family, could have been involved in trafficking his own children. They
have requested help from the Japanese authorities to find him.
His activity was reported to the authorities by at least one surrogate agency
over the past two years, according to Mariam Kukunashvili, of the New Life
Global Network, an international group of fertility centres. She
told Thai media that her agency had provided two surrogate mothers to Shigeta in
2012, one of whom gave birth to twins, but found the number of his commissions
“We served Shigeta one time only and then he demanded he wanted more and more
babies,” Kukunashvili told the Bangkok Post. “I immediately found it
suspicious, especially for a man of his age, and we refused to further serve him
and warned Interpol, the BBC, CNN and the Japanese embassy.”
Kukunashvili claims that she learned, while the surrogates were pregnant,
that Shigeta had recruited an additional three surrogate mothers from another
agency to carry more babies. She was curious as to why he was so keen to father
so many children; in response Shigeta, she said, suggested it was so he could
“have a big family for voting and win an election in Japan“.
Shigeta’s lawyer has denied allegations of human trafficking and says his client, who has
another three children in Japan, merely wanted the children so that he could
pass on his “business and fortune”.
Shigeta – who is believed to own a flat in Hong Kong – is a stakeholder in
the German company behind a mobile phone app that allows parents to track their
children’s movements, the South China Morning Post has reported.
Shigeta travelled frequently in and out of Thailand and took four of his
babies to Cambodia this year, Thai police said. The remaining 11 children are
now being cared for in a government home in Thailand. The IVF clinic that
Shigeta used has been closed.
This potential surrogacy scandal comes after the case of an
Australian couple accused of abandoning their son, Gammy, who has Down’s
syndrome, with his Thai surrogate mother, raising questions about Thailand’s
open surrogacy laws and about children being vulnerable to human trafficking.
The country’s ruling junta has since preliminarily approved a draft law to criminalise commercial surrogacy.