7-year-old Yamato Tanooka, who was abandoned by his parents in the bear-inhabited mountains of Hokkaido, Japan, has been found “in good health” after missing for six nights.
“A Self-Defense Force (SDF) official who was on a drill found a boy whose age appeared to be seven,” said Tomohito Tamura, spokesman for police in northern Hokkaido island, according to AFP. “There was no conspicuous external injury, and the boy introduced himself as Yamato Tanooka,” added Tamura.
Self-Defense Forces spokesman Manabu Takehara told AFP that the boy “looked in good health” when he was found on Friday morning local time. SDF soldiers gave the child rice balls and a drink before he was taken to the hospital by helicopter for check-ups.
Since May 28, over 150 members of the local police and fire departments, along with rescue teams, had been searching for Tanooka after his parents left him in the mountain range reportedly as punishment for throwing stones at passing cars and people while on their way home from a day trip. At first, the parents told police that their son had gone missing while his parents and sister collected wild vegetables in the area.
The boy told police he walked to a metal hut on the military base approximately 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) northeast of where he went missing, the local Hokkaido newspaper reports.
On the same day the child was discovered, his father tearfully recalled the homecoming during a phone interview on TV Asahi.
“I apologized to Yamato,” the sobbing parent shared. “First of all, it’s really great he is safe. I can’t find words. It’s good.”
Authorities stated they are considering filing neglect charges against the parents, according to Kyodo News.