Yamato Tanooka, Japanese Boy Left in Forest as Punishment, Found Alive

By Denisse Moreno, Epoch Times
June 3, 2016 10:37 am Last Updated: June 3, 2016 11:46 am

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.

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.

This picture shows a house in a military exercise area where missing boy Yamato Tanooka was found by Self-Defense Forces personnel in the town of Shikabe in Hokkaido on June 3, 2016. A missing seven-year-old boy who spent nearly a week sheltering in a hut after being abandoned by his parents in a bear-inhabited forest in northern Japan as a punishment was found alive on June 3, officials said. Yamato Tanooka was discovered inside a military base by a soldier about 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles) from where he went missing last Saturday, apparently unharmed and in good health. / AFP / JIJI PRESS / STR / Japan OUT        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A house in a military exercise area where missing boy Yamato Tanooka was found by Self-Defense Forces personnel in the town of Shikabe in Hokkaido on June 3, 2016.
(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

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 media and members of the Self-Defence Forces stand near the building where the 7-year-old Japanese boy who went missing nearly a week ago, was found, in a military drill area in Shikabe, on the northernmost main island of Hokkaido Friday, June 3, 2016. The boy, missing since Saturday, was found unharmed Friday, police said, in a case that had set off a nationwide debate about parental disciplining. (Takaki Yajima/Kyodo News via AP) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT
The media and members of the Self-Defence Forces stand near the building where the 7-year-old Japanese boy, who went missing nearly a week ago, was found, in a military drill area in Shikabe, on the northernmost main island of Hokkaido Friday, June 3, 2016. (Takaki Yajima/Kyodo News via AP)

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.

Takayuki Tanooka, father of the 7-year-old Japanese boy who went missing nearly a week ago, bows in front of media after his son was found, in Hakodate, Hokkaido Friday, June 3, 2016. The boy, missing since Saturday, was found unharmed Friday, police said, in a case that had set off a nationwide debate about parental disciplining. (Daisuke Suzuki/Kyodo News via AP) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT
Takayuki Tanooka, father of the 7-year-old Japanese boy who went missing nearly a week ago, bows in front of media after his son was found, in Hakodate, Hokkaido Friday, June 3, 2016. The boy, missing since Saturday, was found unharmed Friday, police said, in a case that had set off a nationwide debate about parental disciplining. (Daisuke Suzuki/Kyodo News via AP)

“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.”

An image of Yamato Tanooka, the missing 7-year-old Japanese boy, is displayed by Japanese newspaper Yukan Fuji being sold at a railway station kiosk in Tokyo, Friday, June 3, 2016. Tanooka, who went missing nearly a week ago after his parents left him in a forest as punishment, was found Friday in a case that set off a nationwide debate about parental disciplining. Headline reads: "Taken into protective custody six days after being abandoned." (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
An image of Yamato Tanooka, the missing 7-year-old Japanese boy, is displayed by Japanese newspaper Yukan Fuji being sold at a railway station kiosk in Tokyo, Friday, June 3, 2016. Tanooka, who went missing nearly a week ago after his parents left him in a forest as punishment, was found Friday in a case that set off a nationwide debate about parental disciplining. Headline reads: “Taken into protective custody six days after being abandoned.” (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

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.

Rescuers celebrate after a news that a missing boy was found, in Nanae town, on Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands Friday, June 3, 2016. (Daisuke Suzuki/Kyodo News via AP)
Rescuers celebrate after a news that a missing boy was found, in Nanae town, on Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands Friday, June 3, 2016. (Daisuke Suzuki/Kyodo News via AP)

Police have said they are considering filing charges against the Yamato’s parents, Kyodo News reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.