TOKYO — A 7-year-old Japanese boy who disappeared nearly a week ago after his parents left him on the side of a mountain road to discipline him was found unharmed Friday, the Japanese authorities said.
The boy, Yamato Tanooka, wandered onto a military base about 3 miles from where he was left Saturday on the northern island of Hokkaido. He was found by soldiers on a training exercise, exhausted but apparently uninjured, the local police said.
The boy’s parents have faced harsh criticism over the case, which has been covered intensively by the Japanese media.
“I’m full of gratitude. From now on, I’m going to take better care of him as he grows up,” Yamato’s father, Takayuki Tanooka, 44, said on NHK, the national broadcaster. Some 200 police officers and volunteer rescue workers had been searching for the boy.
The parents initially told the police that their son had become separated from them while they were picking wild vegetables. But they later changed their story, saying they had left their son on the side of the road as punishment for throwing stones at cars and people while they were on an outing.
They said they had driven off in their car, intending to scare him. But when they went back a short time later, the boy was gone.
Three soldiers from the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force found the boy in a cabin on the remote wooded military base, said Hiroki Komori, a spokesman for the 11th Brigade of the Northern Army, which trains there.
The boy told the authorities that he had found his way to the area soon after his parents left him and had been subsisting on water from a nearby stream, reports said.
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