Japan's military on Wednesday joined the search for the seven-year-old boy Yamato Tanooka who went missing in a dense northern forest after his parents abandoned him as a punishment for throwing stones at people and cars.
According to Reuters, 75 members of the Self-Defence Forces (SDF) joined 200 policemen and civilians beating their way through the mountainous, bear-inhabited forest on Hokkaido Island. A local hunter also joined the search for the missing boy after fresh bear tracks were found in the area where he disappeared, the Jiji news agency said. Policemen on horseback were also among the rescuers looking for the boy.
Despite the search operation, no lead could be found with many fearing that Tanooka might not have survived Tuesday night's heavy rainfall in the area where temperatures can reportedly go down to 7 degree Celsius.
Tanooka, who is reportedly without food or water, has been missing since Saturday after his parents abandoned him on a mountain road as punishment for misbehaving, reported the Guardian citing AFP.
The boy's parents had previously told the police Tanooka got lost while they were hiking to gather wild vegetables, but later admitted they were angry and tried to punish him for throwing stones at cars and people.
Takayuki Tanooka, Yamato's father, was quoted Reuters as saying: "We have done an unforgivable thing to our child, and we have caused a lot of trouble for everyone."
Thousands of people took to social media to pray for Yamato's safety. Most of them rebuked the parents for their negligence, stated a Reuters report.
I think it's now 6 days since little #YamatoTanooka was left in a forest by his parents. Somehow.. I hope he's safe and is alive
— K O T A (@Redsmoke79) June 2, 2016
Hope they find you soon, safe and sound! #YamatoTanooka
— Ardilore (@ardilore) June 1, 2016
My heart is with #YamatoTanooka and those looking for him. I hope he is found soon and not returned to the idiots that abandoned him.
— Cattt (@cattt____) May 31, 2016