Missing Japanese Boy Found Alive After Week in the Forest

A seven-year-old boy who went missing in a forest in Hokkaido last week was found early this morning, national broadcaster NHK reported. The boy was left on a road by his parents to punish him, and the story led news broadcasts in what is considered a very safe nation.

Yamato Tanooka was found at a military exercise area about 5 kilometers away from where he went missing on May 28, local media Kyodo said. The boy said he had been at the exercise area from that evening and had survived by drinking water. He was discovered by members of the defense force in a barrack. Defense force members rescued the boy and fed him rice balls, local news Asahi reported.

His parents left him in the forest to discipline him for throwing rocks, only to find him missing when they returned soon after. The parents initially lied to authorities, saying their son went missing while they looked for wild vegetables, Asahi said. A week-long search by police and the military involved more than 200 people.

“When I saw my son, I first apologized to him. I never imagined it would turn out like this,” the boy’s father, Takayuki Tanooka told the media after his son’s rescue. “I thought that this discipline would be good for him, but it was over the top. I’m very sorry for causing so much trouble.”

The boy was transported to hospital for further examination and was reunited with his family there, according to local media. Aside from a few scratches on his arms and legs, dehydration and mild hypothermia, he had no serious injuries, Asahi says.

(Updated with details about his discovery and comments from boy’s father in 5th paragraph)

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