Tokyo – Seven years old Yamato Tanooka, a Japanese boy abandoned in a dense forest by his parents for being naughty has been found alive and unharmed on Friday.
This is coming after nearly a week after his disappearance set off a massive search that kept the nation riveted.
He was discovered in a building on a Japanese military base around four kilometers from where he disappeared last Saturday.
His parents left him by the road side reportedly as a disciplinary measure for throwing stones at cars.
“One of our soldiers was preparing for drills this morning and opened the door of a building on the base, and there he was, a member of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces told NHK national television.
“When he asked are you Yamato? The boy said yes. Then he said he was hungry, so the soldier gave him some water, bread and rice balls.”
Yamato was taken to hospital for checks but was healthy except for low body temperature and would be kept overnight as a precaution, a doctor told a news conference.
A tearful Takayuki Tanooka, the boy’s father thanked rescuers for their efforts and apologised for causing trouble.
“We‘ve reflected on what we did and it was really excessive.
“We, well, we loved him before, but I hope to give him even more attention now,” Tanooka said.
Yamato’s parents first said he disappeared while they foraged for edible plants, but later told police they had left him by the road to discipline him after he threw stones at people and cars.
They said when they drove back a few minutes later, the boy had disappeared and the area was so remote that residents of the region said they rarely go through it.
The boy wearing a t-shirt and jeans, managed to survive for nearly a week in the densely forested area where night temperatures fell as low as seven degrees Celsius and heavy rain had fallen.
Yamato said he had “walked through the mountains’’ until he found the building which was unlocked.
He drank water from a nearby tap and slept on mattresses spread on the floor.
When the search for Yamato got to its peak, it involved several hundred shouting rescuers beating through heavy bush, soldiers on motorbikes and police on horseback.
The incident set off a flood of social media comment, with most of those posting comments lambasting the parents for their carelessness, while on Friday, most expressed relief. (Reuters/NAN)