A 7-year-old Japanese boy whose parents left him in a forest was found alive Friday morning, nearly a week after he went missing.
The parents of Yamato Tanooka told investigators they had made the boy get out of the car near a wooded area of Hokkaido on Saturday. He had to exit the family’s vehicle “as discipline” for throwing rocks at cars and people, according to authorities.
Yet he had vanished when they drove back to where they had left him moments later. More than 180 rescue workers combed the forest looking for him until Japanese media reported Friday morning that military personnel discovered him at 7:50 a.m. lying on a mattress in an army training ground hut outside the forest in the town of Shikabe, The Guardian reported.
The building is about 3 miles from where the boy’s parents abandoned him and more than 4 miles away by paths leading through the bear-infested forest on Japan’s northernmost island. The soldiers, who fed the boy rice balls and bread, reported that he was “curled up” on the mattress and did not appear seriously injured.
A doctor told the Kyodo news agency that the boy was suffering from dehydration but only had minor scratches on his arms and feet.
Tanooka’s father, who has not been identified, told reporters that he apologized to his son the moment he saw him.
“The first thing I said to him was that I was really sorry. He nodded and said OK, like he understood,” he said.