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Japan gate-pass for baby Manji

Jaipur, Oct. 17: Japanese baby Manji Yamada, born to an Indian surrogate mother, will now be able to fly to Japan after months of legal tussle caused by her parents’ divorce.

The two-and-a-half-month-old Manji was today issued a “certificate of identity” by the Jaipur passport office, which will allow her father and grandmother to apply for visa to take her home to Japan.

Manji was born in Anand near Ahmedabad on July 25, a month after her father Yukifumi Yamada, a 48-year-old orthopaedic surgeon, and his wife Yuki divorced. Yuki then refused to accept the baby.

The Japanese embassy in Delhi refused to issue a passport saying that since Manji was born in India, she needed an Indian passport and a no-objection certificate to leave the country. Under Indian laws, an infant’s passport has to be linked to the mother’s, which had become difficult since Yuki and the surrogate mother refused to take custody of the baby.

The certificate of identity issued today, valid for a year, is granted to people who are stateless or cannot get a passport from their own country, passport officer Shravan Kumar Varma said.

Manji’s certificate is valid only for Japan and the mother’s name and nationality has been left blank.

Kamal Vijayvargia, the Indian friend at whose home Manji and her grandmother Emiko Yamada are staying, said: “Emiko is naturally elated that she would finally be able to take her granddaughter back to her own country. On Monday, we will apply for visa and hopefully they will be able to leave soon.”

Manji’s parents had reached Ahmedabad last year and entered into a nine-month contract with the surrogate mother. The couple returned to Japan but divorced in June.

The father, accompanied by his septuagenarian mother Emiko, travelled to Ahmedabad and took custody of the child. But after the July 26 blasts in Ahmedabad, Manji was shifted to the Jaipur home of Vijayvargia, who has business links with Japan.

Emiko had to face further trauma when a Jaipur-based NGO, Satya, moved Rajasthan High Court on August 12 claiming the grandmother’s custody of the baby was illegal as there were no clear laws on surrogacy in India or Japan.

The high court ordered the baby be produced before it within four weeks and sent show-cause notices to the central and state governments. Emiko then moved the Supreme Court on August 13, petitioning it to intervene.

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