Wednesday 24 May 2017

Japanese boy left in forest as punishment is found alive

Members of search party celebrate after the missing boy was found alive, in Nanae town on the northernmost Japanese main island of Hokkaido
Members of search party celebrate after the missing boy was found alive, in Nanae town on the northernmost Japanese main island of Hokkaido
Members of the Ground Self-Defense Force conduct a search operation for Yamato Tanooka

A Japanese boy who went missing after his parents left him in a forest as a punishment six days ago has been found alive.

Hokkaido police said Yamato Tanooka, seven, was found on Friday morning by a soldier and appeared to be unharmed.

The case sparked a debate in Japan about parental discipline after Yamato's parents said they made him get out of their car as punishment on Saturday, leaving him in an area ridden with bears on Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island.

The boy was found in a military drill area about three miles from where he disappeared and identified himself as Yamato, police said.

Kyodo News said the boy told police he had been in the drill area for several days after walking alone in the forest. NHK TV said his parents identified their son, who was taken to a hospital by helicopter for check-ups.

Yamato's parents told Japanese TV news that they returned several minutes after making him get out of the car, but he had vanished.

Japanese Self-Defense Force soldiers (R and 2nd R) and police officers search for a 7-year-old boy who went missing on May 28, 2016 after being left behind by his parents, in Nanae town on the northernmost Japanese main island of Hokkaido, Japan
Japanese Self-Defense Force soldiers (R and 2nd R) and police officers search for a 7-year-old boy who went missing on May 28, 2016 after being left behind by his parents, in Nanae town on the northernmost Japanese main island of Hokkaido, Japan

More than 180 rescuers, including troops, had been searching the area.

Although Japan has a reputation for spoiling children and being lax about manners, the culture is also not as progressive as the West in promoting the individual human rights of children, traditionally viewing them almost as property of the family.

Abandonment and child abuse are far more common in Japan than the stereotype of the doting parent and stay-at-home mother would suggest.

The parents reportedly told police they had punished the boy for throwing rocks at people and cars while playing at a river earlier in the day.

Members of the Ground Self-Defense Force conduct a search operation for Yamato Tanooka
Members of the Ground Self-Defense Force conduct a search operation for Yamato Tanooka

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