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Friday, 3rd June 2016
In General Japan News,

Missing Japanese boy found alive after six days

A seven-year-old boy has been found alive and well after six days alone in the countryside of Hokkaido in Japan. Despite being hungry and dehydrated, Yamato Tanooka was otherwise unharmed after having been abandoned on a mountainside by his parents.

Members of Japan’s self-defence forces discovered the boy in an area that is normally used for training exercises in the town of Shikabe. The men entered a hut due to the rain and found the boy taking shelter among a pile of mattresses.

The location, which had been checked on Monday, was around five kilometres from where Yamato had last been seen. The discovery this morning (June 3rd) was six days since the youngster had been left in the wild as punishment by his parents.

Yamato told police that he had arrived at the camp on Saturday and had drunk water from the tap outside the hut. He had made his way out of the forest without any provision of any kind. He ate the rice balls given to him by the troops immediately, as he was very hungry.

At hospital in Hakodate, the boy was put on a drip to treat him for mild dehydration and hypothermia. As well as exhaustion, he had a few scratches on his arms and legs, but was otherwise healthy.

Yamato was also reunited with his parents and sister at the hospital. His father showed remorse for the incident, which sparked a huge search operation to find his son. Takayuki Tanooka told reporters he had apologised to the boy for his actions and extended this to the public who have helped look for the youngster. He told the Japan Times: “I feel very sorry for the boy as I came down on him hard.”

The incident had come about when Yamato’s parents had told him to get out of the car on a mountain road as punishment for throwing stones at cars and people. They drove off and returned to collect him, but there was no sign of the boy where he had disembarked.

A large search operation then got underway, involving police, firefighters and self-defence forces. The densely forested terrain made the manhunt harder and helicopters were used, as well as troops on horseback to try and find him.

Those involved in the search burst into spontaneous applause when they were told that Yamato had been found alive. His school friends were told in an assembly, where the 900 gathered students whooped with joy at the news of his safe return.

Yamato’s class teacher and the principal of his elementary school went to the hospital to visit him. Yoshitaka Sawada, the vice-principal, said: “I want to tell him that he did a great job and was brave.”