No charges against parents who left 7-year-old Japanese boy in woods as punishment

Police on Monday said they do not anticipate charges will be filed against the parents of a 7-year-old Japanese boy who was abandoned on a mountain road and survived six days alone in bear-inhabited woods.

Explore>> Read more trending stories

Yamato Tanooka was found June 3 at a training facility for the Ground Self-Defense Force on the northern island of Hokkaido. The shelter is about three miles from where he was last seen, according to The Japan Times.

He was left on a forest road on May 28 as punishment for throwing stones at cars and people, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. His parents initially told police Yamato wandered away as they were gathering wild plants. However, his father later admitted he left the boy "to scare him a little bit" and found him missing when he returned to the spot he left Yamato five minutes later, according to the Review.

The case gained worldwide attention and sparked a debate over how far child disciplinary measures should go.

Explore>> Related: The Japanese boy left in the woods as punishment has been found safe

Hokkaido police said officers referred the Tanookas to a local child welfare center on Friday because of possible psychological abuse, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. A representative from the center, however, declined to confirm or deny to the Associated Press that a report had been made.

Yamato was discharged from the hospital Tuesday. He smiled and waved at gathered reporters and carried an oversized paper baseball with well wishes on it.

"I'm alright," he said.

Yamato's father, 44-year-old Takayuki Tanooka, said in an emotional interview Monday with Japan's TBS television network that his son said he forgave him.

"I said to him, 'Dad made you go through such a hard time. I am sorry,'" Takayuki Tanooka said. "And then my son said, 'You are a good dad. I forgive you.'"

About the Author