SAPPORO – â€œAre your Yamato?â€ â€œYes,â€ the boy nodded to Self Defense Force personnel. â€œLetâ€™s go home as everybody is worried,â€ an officer told him.
Seven-year-old Yamato Tanooka (pic) told the personnel that he was hungry and ate rice balls and drank a drink given to him.
When discovered on Friday, Yamato was wearing a T-shirt and sweat pants, the same outfit as when he went missing for six days.
The boy went missing after his parents left him alone in a forest in Hokkaido. He was found at a Ground Self-Defense Force facility.
Yamato was taken into protective custody after being discovered at GSDF Komagatake Exercise Area in the town of Shikabe, also in Hokkaido, about five kilometers northeast of where he was left in a mountain forest in Nanae.
According to the Hokkaido prefectural police, the second-year primary school student from Hokuto, in the same prefecture, spent six days drinking water but appeared to be in good health and gave his name.
Yamato has been treated at the Hakodate Municipal Hospital.
According to the police announcement, Yamato was found at about 7:50am. in a billet within the facility by SDF members who came to the area for training.
The boy was left behind on May 28 as a â€œdisciplinaryâ€ step by his parents.
Local police and SDF personnel had been searching for him.
A Self-Defense Forces personnel showing inside of a house in a military exercise area in the town of Shikabe in Hokkaido.
When asked if he had come to that place with anyone, Yamato reportedly said, â€œI came here by myself.â€ Asked where he was sleeping, the boy pointed at mattresses.
Yamato reportedly told the personnel that he had been in the billet since the night of May 28 when he went missing. He was taking shelter from the rain and was drinking water there.
According to what Yamato reportedly explained, he entered one of the billets that was unlocked and was lying between the two mattresses, which were about 5 centimeters thick each. The billet is equipped with a faucet with running water.
A doctor at the Hakodate Municipal Hospital where Yamato has been treated held a press conference and said the boy was a bit dehydrated and had scratches on both his arms and legs but was not in a life-threatening condition.
The boy was travelling by car to a park in Shikabe with his parents and elder sister, who is also a primary school student, on the afternoon of May 28.
He was throwing stones at cars and pedestrians, so his parents put him out of the car and left him alone on the mountain forest road on their way back home at about 5pm. as a â€œdisciplinaryâ€ step.
The parents drove off about 500 meters, then five minutes later his father, Takayuki, 44, returned to the site but could not find his son.
The parents had initially told the police that they â€œgot separatedâ€ from Yamato while they were collecting wild plants but changed their explanation later that night by saying that they â€œleft the boy as a disciplinary step.â€
A rescue team was searching for him but had decided Thursday to shrink the search area.
The GSDF exercise area was not in the field of its search.
The billet is located within the exercise area and is about 200 meters southeast of the entrance.
Yamato was not seen in the billet when personnel checked inside on Monday as part of a regular routine. It was not clear whether Yamato happened to have been outside during the check.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agencyâ€™s Sapporo Regional Headquarters, 4.5 millimeters of rain was recorded on May 28 at the observation point in the town of Mori, which is close to where Yamato was left alone.
A faucet from which Yamato Tanooka drank water is located on the west side of the billet in the GSDF Komagatake Exercise Area in the town of Shikabe, Hokkaido.
Rainfalls of 13 millimeters and 2 millimeters were observed Tuesday and Thursday respectively, and the lowest temperatures were 6.6 celcius on Sunday and 4.8 celcius on Thursday.
Yamatoâ€™s father was interviewed in front of the hospital at 11:50am Friday.
â€œI made Yamato suffer due to my excessive behaviour. I caused all the trouble to people at school and those who searched for him. I deeply apologize,â€ he said.
â€œIâ€™m so relieved that my son survived. Iâ€™m filled with a feeling of gratitude to those who were involved in the search for him,â€ Tanooka said in a choked voice as he bowed deeply.
Tanooka met his son for the first time in six days at the hospital shortly after 9:30am. Yamato was put on a drip in a hospital room.
According to Tanooka, he told his son that he was very sorry for coming down so hard on him, to which his son responded by nodding with a weary look on his face.
About leaving his son in the mountains for discipline, Tanooka told reporters:
â€œI never imagined it could develop into a situation like this. I did it for the sake of my son, but now I think it was too much. Iâ€™ll give him my affection and watch over his growth.â€ â€“ The Japan News/Asia News Network