Boy Left in Woods as Punishment Disappears

7-year-old's parents drove off and returned to find him gone
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2016 1:53 AM CDT
Updated May 30, 2016 6:16 AM CDT
Japanese Boy Left in Woods as Punishment Disappears
Rescuers continue the search near Nanae, Hokkaido.   (AP Photo)

Rescuers are scouring bear-infested woods in northern Japan for a little boy who was abandoned by his parents as punishment. Police say that the parents of 7-year-old Yamato Tanooka reported the boy missing on Saturday but initially lied to investigators, claiming he had vanished while they were picking wild vegetables, the Japan Times reports. They later confessed that they ordered him out of their car in the mountains to punish him for throwing rocks at cars earlier in the day. The boy's father, 44-year-old Takayuki Tanooka, said they stopped the car less than half a mile away and walked back to where they left the boy, arriving some five minutes later, but he was no longer there.

On Monday, more than 150 police officers and volunteers continued the search near the town of Nanae in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island, checking streams and heavy undergrowth. It isn't clear whether the parents will face charges for abandoning the boy. The Telegraph notes that there are around 3,000 Ussuri brown bears on the island; they're an “extremely aggressive” species that can grow to up to 1,200 pounds. This month, two men picking wild bamboo shoots in the area were killed in two separate bear attacks. (This 5-year-old's punishment ended up killing her.)

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