Missing Japanese boy found 'alive and unharmed' six days after being abandoned in forest as 'punishment'

By Mieke Vlok
03 June 2016

He is hungry, exhausted and startled but safely back with his parents.

He is hungry, exhausted and startled but safely back with his parents. Seven-year-old Japanese boy Yamato Tanooka was in the news this week after he went missing when his parents left him on the side of the road near a forest, to “teach him a lesson”.

He survived for five days in the dense forest, which is inhabited by bears and other wildlife, wearing only light clothing. The boy, who is from a town in Japan’s mountainous North, parents left him on the road on Saturday because he had apparently misbehaved by throwing people and cars with stones.
His parents drove a little further down the road “just to scare him a little bit” but when they turned around to get him he had disappeared. An extensive search for the boy followed and he was finally found this morning at a military base close to the forest. It is roughly five kilometres from where he was last seen. His parents had initially told police that he had gone missing after looking for vegetables in the forest but later admitted that they had in fact left him on the road.
“I feel very sorry for the boy as I came down on him hard,” said the boy’s father admitting to the media they “went too far”. The boy was apparently found lying on a pile of mattresses at the military base.

“I deeply apologise to people at his school, people in the rescue operation, and everybody for causing them trouble. I have poured all my love into my son, but from now on, I would want to do more, together with him. I would like to protect him while he grows up. Thank you very much.”

The boy told his rescuers that he had wandered through the mountains until he saw the building. He had nothing to eat and lived on water.

The police are considering charging the boy’s parents with negligence.

Sources: BBC.com, www.japantimes.co.jp, cnn.com, theguardian.com

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