The search for a boy, who was abandoned in the woods, is entering its fourth day. Authorities confirmed Yamato Tano-oka’s parents left him in a remote forest near Nanae in Hokkaido, Japan, as a form of discipline. According to reports, the 7-year-old boy was being punished for throwing rocks.
MSN reports the boy was abandoned in the woods on Saturday. Although his parents reported him missing that same day, they initially said they boy wandered off while they were harvesting wild vegetables.
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The parents later admitted they abandoned the boy in the woods because he was throwing “rocks at people and cars” while visiting a park earlier in the day. Although they insist they returned to the site minutes later, their son apparently vanished into the forest.
Authorities said the situation is specifically dangerous because Yamato Tano-oka does not have access to food or clean water. They are also concerned, as it has been raining and the temperatures have dropped as low as 45 degrees in the evenings. Officials are also worried for his safety because bears are common throughout the region.
As reported by Examiner, an estimated 3,000 Ussuri bears live in the forests of Hokkaido. Locals report the bears can be dangerous, as they have a tendency to be particularly aggressive toward humans.
In Early May, Ussuri bears were blamed in the deaths of two Hokkaido men who were killed in separate incidents. According to reports, the men were foraging for bamboo shoots when they were brutally attacked.
Japan Times reports the 7-year-old boy was last seen wearing a black pullover shirt, navy blue shorts, and red sneakers.
Rescue teams, which include an estimated 130 firefighters, have been scouring the woods since the Yamato Tano-oka was reported missing on Saturday. Unfortunately, they have not found any sign of the missing boy.
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Authorities confirmed the parents may be charged with criminal child neglect. However, charges have not been filed at this time.
In an interview with a local newspaper, Takayuki Tano-oka, 44, said he did not expect his son to wander away from the edge of the woods. He said he simply wanted to punish the boy for misbehaving.
“I wanted to discipline him, so made him get out of the car to scare him a bit. He’s an active, lively boy, but I’m worried how he’s doing.”
During another interview, Takayuki expressed regret for abandoning the boy in the woods. He also apologized “for causing trouble for many people.”
News about the boy being abandoned in the woods sparked outrage across numerous social media outlets. Although a majority of the comments were critical of the parents’ choice of discipline, many users offered well wishes and prayers for the missing child.
Authorities said they will continue to search for the 7-year-old boy. Each day, more than 130 people have searched the Hokkaido forest on foot and horseback. The search and rescue teams include police officers, firefighters, school officials, and volunteers from the communities.
Although there is serious concern about Yamato Tano-oka’s welfare, children have survived being lost in heavily wooded regions.
In August 2015, Malachi Bradley, 10, wandered off while hiking with his father in Utah’s Ashley National Forest. As reported by Fox News, the boy was wearing a light jacket. However, as he was wearing shorts, as the temperatures dropped to near freezing, there was concern that he would suffer from hypothermia.
After being lost for 28 hours, Malachi was found alive. According to reports, the boy stayed warm by wrapping his t-shirt around his legs and keeping his coat around his shoulders.
The boy who was abandoned in the woods in Japan has fewer resources than Malachi Bradley, but authorities are not willing to give up hope in their search for the missing boy.
[Image via Tomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock]