Japanese boy, 7, left in woods as punishment found alive

"You wouldn't be Yamato, would you?"

"Yes, I am."

The first words spoken by the Japanese boy abandoned in bear-infested woods as punishment have been revealed just hours after it emerged he had been miraculously found, news.com.au reported.

Takayuki Tanooka, right, father of the 7-year-old Japanese boy who went missing nearly a week ago, speaks to media after his son was found. Photo / AP
Takayuki Tanooka, right, father of the 7-year-old Japanese boy who went missing nearly a week ago, speaks to media after his son was found. Photo / AP

Yamato Tanooka was abandoned by his parents in the mountains of Japan's north island of Hokkaido on Saturday and found six days later.

His parents kicked him out of their car on a mountain road as punishment for misbehaving.

The boy was found by a soldier at an empty Japanese air force building in Shikabe Town in Hokkaido this morning.

"There was no conspicuous external injury, and the boy introduced himself as Yamato Tanooka," a spokesman for police in northern Hokkaido island said.

A member of the Self-Defence Forces shows the mattress which the Japanese boy who went missing nearly a week ago, was using inside a building in a military drill area in Shikabe town. Photo / AP
A member of the Self-Defence Forces shows the mattress which the Japanese boy who went missing nearly a week ago, was using inside a building in a military drill area in Shikabe town. Photo / AP

Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that police said the boy was in relatively good health and that he identified himself as Yamato Tanooka. His parents also confirmed the boy found was their son.

The media and members of the Self-Defence Forces stand near the building where the 7-year-old Japanese boy who went missing nearly a week ago, was found. Photo / AP
The media and members of the Self-Defence Forces stand near the building where the 7-year-old Japanese boy who went missing nearly a week ago, was found. Photo / AP

He has been given food and water and is now receiving hospital treatment.

According to broadcaster TV Asahi, the boy was found in an unheated building used as a training area for the military roughly 5km from where he went missing.

A soldier, who did not find the boy, said he heard the boy was "curled up" on a mattress and did not appear injured, The Guardian reported.

Rescuers celebrate after a news that a missing boy was found. Photo / AP
Rescuers celebrate after a news that a missing boy was found. Photo / AP

He was given rice balls and bread.

Manabu Takehara, a spokesman for the Self-Defence Forces, confirmed that the boy was found.

"He looked in good health, but he was sent to hospital by medical helicopter," for a check-up, he said.

Members of the Ground Self-Defense Force conduct a search operation for Yamato Tanooka. Photo / AP
Members of the Ground Self-Defense Force conduct a search operation for Yamato Tanooka. Photo / AP

Race against time

Rescuers held grave concerns for the boy with temperatures dropping to just seven degrees overnight in the area he had gone missing.

It had also been feared he might not have survived heavy rains earlier in the week.

It is not yet known how he managed to survive for so long alone.

Yamato's father Takayuki Tanooka initially said his son had got lost hiking while they were out gathering vegetables, but later admitted the truth.

He said they were angry and tried to punish their son because he had thrown stones at cars and people so left him by the road.

Rescuers search for a 7-year-old boy who is missing in a Japanese forest in Nanae town, on Hokkaido. Photo / AP
Rescuers search for a 7-year-old boy who is missing in a Japanese forest in Nanae town, on Hokkaido. Photo / AP

They said when they went back to get him soon after, he had vanished.

"We have done an unforgivable thing to our child, and we have caused a lot of trouble for everyone," he said just days ago. "I just hope he is safe."

Japan's military had joined the search for boy and a local hunter was also called in after fresh bear tracks were found in the area.

Police said more than 180 rescuers, including defence troops, were involved in the hunt for the boy.

Authorities initially led the search for the boy but after coming up empty-handed the local town of Nanae requested military support.

Rescuers on horseback search for a 7-year-old boy who is missing in a Japanese forest. Photo / AP
Rescuers on horseback search for a 7-year-old boy who is missing in a Japanese forest. Photo / AP

Japanese soldiers joined in the hunt in the rugged region from Wednesday, where heavy rains at times hampered the operation conducted in overgrown forest and through tall bushes.

Searchers had expressed frustration that they were unable to find any evidence of the boy's whereabouts.

The search had gripped Japan, with news programs offering hourly updates, and thousands took to the internet to both pray for the boy's survival and excoriate his parents for what was seen as neglect.

The case also set off a debate in Japan about parental disciplining.

- news.com.au

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