Japanese Boy Missing for Three Days After Parents Left Him in Woods as Punishment

Rescue teams have been scouring the thick woods of northern Hokkaido, Japan, for the past three days in search of a young boy who had been abandoned there by his parents, as punishment for being naughty.

7-year-old Yamato Tano-oka was first reported missing on Saturday, when his parents alerted the police saying that he had become separated while they were out walking through the forest, looking for wild vegetables. However, a day later, during questioning, one of the parents admitted that Yamato had been left alone in the bear-infested woods on purpose, as a form of punishment for misbehaving. Although the police has yet to confirm the exact reasons for this punishment, local media reports that he had been throwing rocks at passing cars and people.


Photo: Asahi TV video caption

It is still unclear how long Yamato was left on his own in the wild, but Japanese media claims the parents only lost sight of him for five minute before returning to get him, but he was nowhere to be found. The boy’s father. Takayuki Tano-oka, revealed that they were reluctant to alert the police at first, because of the circumstances of his disappearance, but were left with no choice after failing to find him on their own. “I was not able to ask for (a search) with a reason of punishment,” he told TV Asahi. “I thought it might be taken as a domestic violence.”

Over 150 rescuers and police officers are currently looking for Yamato, checking streams and heavy undergrowth, but have so far found no clues regarding his whereabouts. With no food or water, and with heavy rainfall having hit the area overnight, rescuers are doing all they can to find the missing boy as soon as possible. The chances of him running into someone in the woods are slim, as people from the nearby town of Nanae only rarely pass through the mountainous area, as a shortcut.


Photo: Asahi TV video caption

As the Telegraph notes, the forests of Hokkaido are home to around 3,000 Ussuri brown bears, which can be very aggressive. Two men were killed in bear attacks on the island this month, after venturing in the forest to pick wild bamboo shoots.

As expected, the story of Yamato’s disappearance has infuriated the Japanese public. A large number of people has taken to social media to express their outrage against the parents’ reckless actions. “This is not punishment but abuse!” on Twitter user wrote. “The parents are so stupid that I am speechless,” another added.


It is yet unclear whether Takayuki Tano-oka and his wife will face criminal charges, but one thing is for sure – they regret everything. “I want to apologize to my son, also for causing trouble for so many people,” the father said. “I’m just filled with the feeling hoping that he comes back safely.”

Sources: Japan Times, CNN

Posted in News        Tags: , ,