While the baby who took his place in the hospital six decades ago went on to live a privileged life of private tutoring and university, and is now the head of a property firm, the Japanese man born to wealthy parents grew up in poverty.
The 60-year-old man, who has chosen not to reveal his name, was dependent on state assistance for his upbringing after the man he believed to be his father passed away when he was only two years old. As he grew up, there were few comforts in their one-room apartment because the woman he considered his mother had to support his three older brothers.
Before he was able to secure a stable job as a driver for a transportation business, the man had to attend night school while working day shifts in a factory. He never wed and now assists in caring for three men who are not his brothers, one of whom has had a stroke.
The baby who was given to the man's biological parents was born at the San-Ikukai Hospital in Tokyo's Sumida ward 13 minutes later, and he or she grew up in a relatively comfortable environment.
This young man attended a university, had a private tutor, and now runs a prosperous real estate business. According to news reports, all three of his brothers are employed by large corporations.
‘It is impossible to assess the scale of the pain and disappointment the parents and the man had to suffer’
It wasn't until recently that his brothers began to wonder if he resembled any of his relatives at all.
When the family asked for access to hospital records in 2011, DNA tests later confirmed the error.
The mistake apparently occurred when a midwife bathed the newborn infants and then gave them back to the incorrect mothers.
The man sentenced to a life of hardship spoke to the media in Tokyo and described his shock at discovering that the people he had grown up believing to be his parents and brothers weren't actually related to him.
He said, "I wondered how this could have happened. "I found it hard to believe. Sincerely speaking, I did not want to accept it.
The hospital was ordered by the Tokyo District Court this week to pay the man 38 million yen ($393,000) in damages as a result of the confusion, which is a significant decrease from the 250 million yen ($2.6 million) the plaintiffs had requested.
Judge Masatoshi Miyasaka stated in his decision that "the links between the man and his real parents were severed and the man was forced to grow up in a poor home." "He went through a great deal of mental suffering.
The court found that there were "significant differences between the two family environments and the plaintiff suffered an unreasonable loss as a result."
The man's parents and the man had to endure unbearable pain and disappointment because they were denied the chance to enjoy their parent-child relationship for all time.
‘I could not believe it. To be honest, I did not want to accept it’
The man is still coming to terms with the effects of the events that occurred 60 years ago, and his biological parents both passed away before the error was discovered.
He said, "I might have had a different life. I want [the hospital] to turn the clock back to the day of my birth.
He is especially upset about never getting to meet his real parents.
As soon as he saw a picture of his parents, he said, "I wanted to see them alive." I struggled for months to control my tears every time I saw their pictures.
He continued by saying that his mother might have sensed something was wrong. “I think my foster mother may have sensed it,” he admitted, pointing to the physical differences between himself and his brothers.
Because the 10-year statute of limitations had passed, the hospital initially sought to have the case dismissed. The court rejected that argument and determined that the statute of limitations only applied after the confirmation of the DNA test results.
The hospital has not indicated whether it will challenge the judgment in court.