Yamato Tanooka was abandoned in Hokkaido by his parents and left to fend for himself for a week in the woods

By Andrea Park
Updated June 07, 2016 05:55 AM
Credit: TV Asahi

Yamato Tanooka, the 7-year-old Japanese boy who was left to fend for himself for six nights in a forest on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, has returned home to the parents who abandoned him as punishment.

According to NBC News, local TV news footage showed Tanooka leaving a hospital in northern Japan and getting in a car with his parents on Tuesday.

“I’m alright!” he told reporters, adding that he was excited to get back to school and that he was looking forward to playing baseball again.

Tanooka’s parents left him near the mountain range of Nanae-cho on Saturday, May 27. Although they first told police that the boy had gone missing during a day trip to the area with his parents and sister to collect wild vegetables, they soon admitted to leaving Tanooka alone in the mountains to discipline him for throwing stones at passing cars as the family headed home.

When his parents quickly drove back to where they had left him, Tanooka was gone. It took rescue teams and members of local police and fire departments almost a week to locate the boy, finally finding him in a military hut on Friday, June 3.

Yamato, who “looked in good health” according to the official who found him, told police he walked to the metal hut on the military base approximately 3.4 miles northeast of where he went missing. He wedged himself between the hut’s two mattresses at night to keep warm and was able to get fresh water from a tap outside.

Yamato’s father tearfully described the reunion with his son to Japanese news outlet TV Asahi on Friday.

“I apologized to Yamato,” he said. “First of all, it’s really great he is safe. I can’t find words. It’s good.”

Local media sources reported that police will not press charges against Yamato’s parents, according to NBC News.