Authorities are saying a seven-year old Japanese boy left on the side of the mountains by his parents as a form of discipline was found on Friday
It was last Saturday [May 28, 2016] that the boy, Yamato Tanooka, was left on the northern island of Hokkaido about three miles from the military base where he was found.
The young Tanooka was found by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces personnel on the military’s Kamagatame exercise field after wandering onto the base at around 7:50 AM local time.
He was then taken 19 miles south to Hakodate Municipal Hospital to be treated, with the facility reporting that Yamato was able to walk and only showed symptoms of dehydration and malnourishment.
“One of our soldiers was preparing for drills this morning and opened the door of a building on the base, and there he was,” said a member of the Self-Defense Force. “When he asked ‘Are you Yamato?’ the boy said, ‘Yes’. He said he was hungry. So, the soldier gave him some water, bread and rice balls.”
The search for Yamato lasted a total of six days with nearly 200 members in search and rescue teams, including dozens of Japan’s self-defense force members, searching through the mountains and dense forest.
Tanooka’s parents originally reported the boy as missing, claiming that he had gotten separated from them while looking for wild plants in the woods, but eventually admitted to abandoning the child in the woods as punishment for bad behavior.
“My excessive act forced my son to have a painful time,” said the boy’s father Takayuki Tanooka in a news briefing outsie of Hakodate Hospital. “I deeply apologize 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.”
While police have not revealed why the young boy was being punished, local media reported that it was because he was throwing rocks at passing cars.
The case has managed to raise serious questions about acceptable levels of discipline for children in Japan and could also result in charges of negligence for the young boy’s parents.