Yamato Tanooka, Japanese Boy Left in Forest as Punishment, Found Alive
Yamato Tanooka, the Japanese boy who had been missing for almost a week after he was left in a forest by has parents as punishment, was found on June 3.
A soldier discovered Yamato, 7, at a military hut. The boy did not shed a tear after being found and was given two rice balls by the soldier, which he ate ravenously.
A doctor who examined Yamato said the boy was dehydrated and had minor scratches on his arms and feet, but no serious health risks were found.
I’m so glad they found young 7yr old Yamato Tanooka after he went missing for a week in the Woods pic.twitter.com/bDnDrsw4Au
— Suhail Yusufzai (@SuhailYusufzai) June 3, 2016
His disappearance triggered a massive manhunt that included 180 people and search dogs.
Meanwhile, around the country, people soul-searched on how they raise and discipline children.
The boy was left by his parents as a form of teaching him a lesson for misbehaving and throwing rocks. They made him get out of the vehicle on May 28 on the northernmost main island of Hokkaido in a forest, which is supposedly filled with bears. When they returned a few minutes later, they could not find Yamato.
The boy apparently walked for several kilometers and found the the empty longhouse-style hut in a military drill area. He entered the facility through a door that had been left open. The hut had no heat, power, or food, but the boy took shelter in between mattresses on the floor and drank water from a faucet outside the hut for days, according to local media.
The soldier who found the boy had not been part of the search operation, but the boy had identified himself.
After he was discovered, Yamato was transferred to a hospital by helicopter. Outside of the medical facility, the father of the boy apologized. Bowing his head, the father, Takayuki Tanooka, thanked everyone who helped with the search and promised to do a better job as the boy’s father.
“We have raised him with love all along,” said the father, fighting tears.
“I really didn’t think it would come to that. We went too far,” he added.
When asked what he had told his son after he was found, the father said, “I told him I was so sorry for causing him such pain.”
Military officials praised the boy for his perseverance. The building where he was found was far from where he had disappeared, and involved a challenging uphill climb. Japan welcomed the boy’s safe return, as pictures of Yamato were distributed continuously through the media.
Police have said they are considering filing charges against the Yamato’s parents, Kyodo News reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.