With no sign yet of the seven-year-old, new details have emerged about the chain of events that led to the ongoing crisis.
As of the morning of June 1, search and rescue teams have been unable to locate Yamato Tanooka, a second-year elementary school students who on Saturday, May 28 was left by the side of the road in a wooded, mountainous section of Hokkaido, the northernmost and least-densely populated of Japan’s four main islands. As the search continues, the boy’s parents have revealed more information as to why they ordered their child out of their car, and how different the result of their actions is from what they’d intended.
Earlier in the day on May 28, the family of four, consisting of Yamato, his parents, and his younger sister, had gone on an outing to a riverside park in the town of Shikabecho. While there, Yamato had amused himself by throwing rocks at other visitors and their cars. Most would judge that as beyond the acceptable range of childhood mischievousness, and thus calling for some form of punishment, which Yamato’s parents decided to administer on the drive home.
“In order to discipline him,” relays Yamato’s father, Takayuki, “we wanted to scare him a little, so we stopped the car and told him to get out.”
The parents claim they returned to the scene five minutes later, intending to pick Yamato up after hopefully teaching him a lesson that would leave a lasting impression on him. However, by that time the child had wandered off, and has not been seen since. Searches by members of the police and fire department have proved unsuccessful, so on the morning of June 1 they were joined by 70 members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, bringing the total size of the search party to 200 people.
In speaking with the media, Takayuki has expressed deep remorse for what he has done. “[Yamato] is an active, healthy boy, but I’m worried about his safety,” the 44-year-old Takayuki said, and considering how long his son has been missing, he has good reason to be.