A seven-year-old boy who went missing after his parents left him in a Japanese forest ‘as punishment’ has been found alive and unharmed.
The boy, Yamato Tanooka, was found in military barracks near Shikabe in northern Hokkaido, just a few kilometres from where he was left, the BBC reports.
His parents initially said he had got lost, but eventually admitted to abandoning him ‘as punishment’ for throwing rocks at passing cars.
His father, Takayuki Tanooka, has apologised to both his son and rescuers, saying: “We went too far.”
He said in a news briefing:
My excessive act forced my son to have a painful time.
I deeply apologise 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.
According to a police spokesman, the boy ‘walked through the mountains’ until he found an army building, broadcaster NHK reported. He reportedly drank water and slept on a mattresses he found on the floor of the base camp.
Young boy missing in Japan forest found alive in hut https://t.co/raSCSnnZKo
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 3, 2016
Army personnel, emergency services and volunteers had been searching for the boy since Saturday. His parents initially said they had lost him when they were out hiking to gather wild vegetables but subsequently admitted they made him get out of their car on a mountain road for misbehaving. The forest where he was left is known to be home to wild bears.
The boy was abandoned on the northern side of the road on a slope of Mount Komagatake, which rises to an altitude of 1,131 metres (3,710 feet).
Manabu Takehara, a spokesman for the Self-Defense Forces, said the boy ‘looked in good health’, adding he was taken to hospital by helicopter for medical checks. It is understood he will remain in hospital overnight as a precaution, The Guardian reports.