Yamato Tanooka
Yamato TanookaKyodo/via REUTERS

Yamato Tanooka, a 7-year-old boy who had gone missing in a bear-inhabited forest of northern Japan after his parents forced him out of their car as punishment, was found on Friday after a seven-day search. His father, Takayuki Tanooka, apologised to him for taking the punishment for misbehaving too far.

Yamato was found by military personnel in a Japan Self-Defense Force base in the town of Shikabe, Hokkaido, in a starved and dehydrated state. He was reported to have  sustained cuts and no other harm was visible. The boy was found around 5 km away from where he was left by his parents. His parents had initially said that he went missing after they went hiking. 

"He was incredibly calm considering he had been missing for seven days. He didn't panic at all," the doctor who ran his check-up after he was found was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

The boy had gone missing on Saturday, May 28, after his parents told him to get out of the car for throwing stones at cars and people passing by. The extreme case of punishment fuelled a national debate about parental disciplining in the country.

Takayuki apologised not only to his son, but also to his school, the search teams and all other supporters. He made a public apology and promised to do a better job at raising Yamato, CBC reported.

"The first thing I said to him was that I was really sorry. He nodded and said OK, like he understood," Takayuki was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

"We've raised him in a loving family, but from now on we'll do even more to love him and keep a close watch on him as he grows up," Takayuki said. "Our behaviour as parents went too far, and that's something I'm extremely regretful about. I thought that what I was doing was for his own good, but, yes, I realise now that I went too far."