Japanese boy abandoned by parents in bear-infested forest found alive

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Source: police handout
Source: police handout

A 7-year-old Japanese boy, Yamato Tanooka, who was left a week ago in a forest in Hokkaido, Japan’s most northerly main island, has been found alive by rescue teams. The boy was abandoned in the forest as punishment by his parents for misbehaving after he threw stones at cars and other people during a family day out.

The boy’s parents had initially told the police that Yamato had wandered off while they were collecting fresh mountain vegetables. The boy’s father, Takayuki Tanooka, later admitted that he had misled the police and confessed that the couple had stopped their car on a mountain road, ordered Yamato out as punishment and drove off. They returned to the spot after moving half a mile, but the boy had disappeared. Tanooka claimed he was only gone for five minutes. In an interview with TV Asahi, he admitted later that he lacked courage to tell the truth to the police when the search for his son began.

“My infuriated act compelled my son to suffer,” Yamato’s father told reporters outside the hospital where his son was being treated. “I deeply apologise to people at his school, people in the rescue operation, and everybody for causing them trouble,” he added, thanking the rescuers.

The young boy was found by defense personnel in a building snuggled on a mattress at the military drill area four miles from where he was left in the town of Shikabe at around 7.50 am. No visible injuries were found on his body. He also told the officers that he had been at the same place for several days. He was then immediately flown by a helicopter to a hospital in the city of Hakodate where he is undergoing tests.