The 7-year-old Japanese boy who survived for days in the wilderness after he was abandoned along a road as punishment has forgiven his father.
Six days after Yamato Tanooka vanished in a region of Hokkaido known for its many bears, the boy was discovered in a military barracks three miles from where his dad left him.
Now that the family's fear and despair have turned to joy, Yamato's father told local reporters in an interview airing Monday that they have apologized to the boy.
"I said to him, 'Dad made you go though such a hard time. I am sorry'," Mr. Tanooka said in Japanese. "And then, my son said, 'You are a good dad. I forgive you.'"
Yamato was found inside a military facility for the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) near Shikabe in northern Hokkaido, miles from where his parents left him for misbehaving six nights earlier, reports said.
Little Yamato survived freezing temperatures at night and heavy rainfall wearing just a t-shirt and jeans, and suffered only minor scrapes and a low body temperature, the Guardian reported.
“He was incredibly calm considering he had been missing for seven days,” a doctor who assessed Yamato told reporters. “He didn’t panic at all.”
Yamato’s parents made him get out of their car on a mountain road because he was throwing stones at cars and people, Hokkaido Prefectural Police said.
When they went back to the spot where they left him, the boy was gone.
The parents originally told police their son had gotten lost while they were out hiking to gather wild vegetables, but later told the truth about the circumstances of his disappearance.
"I couldn't bring myself to make the request [for the search] and give the reason [for him being missing] as it is because of a punishment," the boy’s father, Takayuki Tanooka, told reporters in Japanese.
A SDF official was on a drill when he found the child in the one-story hut without heat, authorities said. He was curled up on a mattress when he was found.
“He looked well and didn’t appear to have lost any weight. He’s safe – that’s the most important thing. I’m so relieved,” a tearful Takayuki Tanooka told TV Asahi.
More than 180 rescuers had been searching for Yamato, with the military eventually joining the search.