How did he survive?
He was discovered at a military base on Friday, about 5.5km (3.4 miles) from where he went missing last Saturday. The site had allegedly already been searched on Monday morning, but the boy was not found... The search team comprised of 180 people and search dogs. The soldier who found Tanooka had not been part of any previous rescue efforts, AP reports. Yamato told police he had walked to the military base by himself soon after his parents left him. "I drank water to get by," he reportedly said. "There wasn't anything to eat." He slept on mattresses spread on the hut floor.There doesn't seem to be any talk about taking the child away from the parents, who have been effusively apologizing:
"My excessive act forced my son to have a painful time... I deeply apologise to people at his school, people in the rescue operation, and everybody for causing them trouble. I have poured all my love into my son, but from now on, I would want to do more, together with him. I would like to protect him while he grows up. Thank you very much."Initially, the parents had said that the boy had just got lost as they were walking in the woods, but later the father admitted that they'd made the boy get out of the car and they drove away. He'd withheld the true story because of sekentei— which means how one is seen in society. During the days of the search, there was a great deal of talk in Japan about what the parents had done:
Naoki Ogi, a TV personality and pedagogy expert, better known as "Ogi-mama", condemned the parents outright, saying this was neglect and abuse. He also noted and criticised how many parents in Japan tend to see their children as their personal possessions.Of course, it's a mistake to leave the child in the brown-bear-infested woods, and everyone knows that by now. But the story of Yamato Tanooka opened up a broader discussion of discipline that comes in the form of causing the child to believe he is being left behind. Have you never seen a parent perform this drama? Were you the parent? Were you the child?
But then opinions started to vary and there were some more nuanced and sympathetic views. "Raising kids is hard" seemed to be the collective sigh heard around social media, TV talk shows, and proverbial water coolers.
One famous morning talk show host, Tomoaki Ogura, sympathised with the parents on Monday, on his Fuji TV show "Tokudane!". Mr Ogura said: "To say 'If you're so bad, we can't take you along, just stay here' is a valid way of scolding a child."
Many recalled how they too were shut out of their homes as children, left throwing a tantrum on the toy shop floor, or shut in a dark closet.
A well-known literary critic, Yumi Toyozaki, tweeted on Tuesday: "I was a restless, rambunctious, cantankerous child, so I feel very much for the father who left his child in the woods for a bit in order to discipline him. I hope people stop condemning him."
The incident has had many sharing childhood memories of how parents pretended to leave them or their siblings for refusing to listen.
And hurrah for Yamato Tanooka, the boy who survived. He was clever or lucky to get to a hut and to shelter there, to keep warm, to drink from the tap, and to stay there, day after day, until finally — why did it take so long? — he was found:
"One of our soldiers was preparing for drills this morning and opened the door of a building on the base, and there he was," an SDF member told NHK.
"When he asked 'are you Yamato?' the boy said, 'Yes'. Then he said he was hungry, so the soldier gave him some water, bread and rice balls."