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Yamato Tanooka, 7-Year-Old Abandoned by Parents as Punishment, Found Safe in Japanese Woods

Father Apologizes for Leaving His Son in Woods 1:00

A young Japanese boy whose parents abandoned him in the woods as punishment was found safe after an intensive six-day search, police told NBC News on Friday.

Police on Japan's island of Hokkaido said military personnel on a training mission found Yamato Tanooka, 7, inside the grounds of the Komagatake military base in the town of Shikabe at around 7:50 a.m. (6:50 p.m. ET Thursday).

Image: Yamato Tanooka.
An undated photo of Yamato Tanooka provided by an elementary school of Hokuto city. AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL VIA JIJI PR / AFP - Getty Images

The boy was flown to Hakodate Municipal Hospital to be checked out. The facility reported that Yamato was able to walk and appeared "remarkably well," showing symptoms only of dehydration and malnourishment.

Yamato's parents initially said their son became separated from them while looking for wild plants in the woods but the family later changed its story a day later to say the boy had been left behind as a "form of discipline," according to police.

May 30: Search Continues for Boy Left in Woods as Punishment 0:26

Police wouldn't say why Yamato was being punished, but local media reported that he was disciplined for throwing rocks at cars. It was unclear whether the parents would face any criminal charges.

The boy was brought to a hospital for examination. His father apologized profusely outside of the hospital, saying his actions had put his son through "an extremely painful experience and caused tremendous trouble to people at his school and for those who searched for him."

"I really didn't think things would turn out this way," Takayuki Tanooka said in a voice quivering with emotion. "I think my actions were very excessive, and I deeply regret it."