Yamato Tanooka’s parents may face abuse charges after boy found alive almost a week after being ordered out of car as punishment.
Yamato Tanooka was found alive and well on Friday after a frantic six-day search—but his parents aren’t out of the woods yet.
The 7-year-old was left alone on a forest road in Hokkaido as punishment for throwing rocks, and police are now considering investigating his parents for psychological abuse and have contacted child welfare authorities, according to the Guardian, which cites reports in Japanese media.
Sources say Yamato has told investigators that after he was left by the side of the road, he cried so much he lost his sense of direction and ended up following an unpaved mountain path to a military training area, where a soldier found him in a hut on Friday morning.
Sources tell the Japan Times that the boy has told investigators he stayed in the hut because he was frightened of the forest and thought somebody would find him there eventually. Experts say Yamato is lucky to have survived and note that the area where he was found wasn’t searched for a long time because searchers believed the small boy would not have followed a path uphill or away from the paved road.
Yamato, who was suffering slightly from hypothermia when he was found, is still in a hospital recovering from his ordeal and it will probably be a few days before he’s released, reports Reuters. In a TV interview Monday, father Takayuki Tanooka, 44, said he had apologized again for making Yamato go through such a “hard time.” He said his son told him, “You are a good dad. I forgive you.”