TOKYO (AA) – A 7-year-old Japanese boy has been found alive following a six-day search after he went missing when his parents ordered him to leave their car to discipline him.
Yamato Tanooka was found by Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel Friday morning in a shelter used by the troops in the town of Shikabe in the mountainous forests of northern Hokkaido island.
The shelter is located 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from Nanae, where his parents said they left him on a forest path Saturday afternoon to punish him for throwing stones at people and cars -- only to not find him when they returned five minutes later.
Kyodo news agency quoted his father as saying Friday, "I feel very sorry for the boy as I came down hard on him."
He said that upon their reunion at a hospital in Hakodate city, he conveyed his feelings to his son, also apologizing to the public for his "excessive behavior”.
A doctor at the hospital told a press conference that the boy had scratches on his hands and legs, and was being administered a drip infusion due to dehydration and low body temperature.
According to SDF personnel, the boy drank water and slept on mattresses at the shelter, where there was no food.
The days-long search had been joined by between 130 and 200 police officers and firefighters, in addition to the SDF, with police using a helicopter Monday as firefighters searched for him on horseback.
Police had earlier said they would look into whether neglect charges could be filed against his parents.
His parents initially told investigators that their son went missing as they and their daughter collected edible wild plants, but his father later admitted that they provided that account due to feeling ashamed by their actions, according to the Japan Times.