Man switched at birth speaks out 60 years later

JAPAN - A 60-year-old man who recently won a compensation suit after being mistakenly switched with another baby at the hospital where he was born 60 years ago revealed his mixed feelings at a press conference.

"The mother who raised me did all she could for me," said the man, repeating words of gratitude for his non-biological mother at a press conference held in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo, on Wednesday. "I'm grateful the court ruled in my favour...I wish I could go back to 60 years ago."

The ruling handed down by the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday recognised that two newborn babies were switched at a hospital in Sumida Ward in 1953. The court ordered the hospital to pay ¥38 million in total to the man and his three biological younger brothers. The mix-up between him and another man was confirmed in January last year through DNA testing.

"Impossible. That would never happen." The man was shocked at the thought. However, he accepted the test results, finally understanding the reason why people around him said he didn't resemble his brothers.

Due to the mix-up, the man was raised as the fourth son of a family to which he has no biological connection. When he was 2 years old, the father of the family died. Relying on livelihood protection benefits, the mother raised three children in a six-mat, one-room apartment.

After the man graduated from middle school, he started working at a small factory. Today he is a truck driver living in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the other man involved in the switch was raised in affluent circumstances. Having heard that the other man was a university graduate, the first man said he wondered "whether I would've had a different life, graduating from university."

Later on, the man received photos of his deceased biological parents from his biological younger brother. He said he cried over and over again, wishing that he could have met his parents while they were still alive.

"The man suffered a grave disadvantage," Tuesday's ruling said. Even so, the man repeatedly expressed his gratitude for the mother who raised him, saying: "Because my father died when I was little, my mother gave me lots of love. She did all she could for me."

The family register of the man was corrected in June to indicate he is the first son of his biological parents. He gets along with his three biological brothers, whom he met when he was nearly 60 years old. They sometimes drink together. He said he made plans for a trip to a hot spring with them after things settle down.

Still, he has two older brothers whom he was raised with, and he takes care of the second son of his non-biological parents. He cares for the brother, who suffered a brain hemorrhage, including cooking him meals. "He cared for me [as a sibling], so I want to do everything I can for him," the man said.

According to a spokesperson for the plaintiffs, the family register of the other man involved in the switch has not been corrected. The case has been taken to the Supreme Court.