Actually, he sort of found them.
On the morning of June 2, Yamato Tanooka, the seven-year-old Japanese boy who had been missing since May 28, was found, bringing to an end nearly a week of tense search efforts that had many fearing the worst had happened.
The child’s parents initially told authorities their son had become lost searching for edible mountain greens near Hokkaido’s Mt. Komagatake, before admitting that they had left him by the side of a forest road as a disciplinary measure and he had disappeared before they came back to pick him up. On June 1, the rescue efforts were expanded to include personnel from Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, but even after searching 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) in every direction from Yamato’s last known location, the search parties had been unable to find him.
But in a surprising development, Yamato was finally discovered roughly four kilometers north of where he had been abandoned, within the perimeter of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces Komagatake Training Grounds. At roughly 7:50 a.m. on June 3, a member of the JSDF came across a young boy inside one of the sleeping structures trainees use when on maneuvers. “Are you Yamato?” the JSDF member asked, to which the boy cheerfully responded “Yes, that’s me.”
The child had no visible injuries, but was hungry, so the JSDF member quickly gave him the water and onigiri (rice balls) he had on him. The boy was then airlifted to Hakodate Municipal Hospital, the nearest major medical center, where he is currently undergoing a thorough examination.
The police investigation into the exact chain of events that led to the crisis is still ongoing. For now, though, Japan is breathing a sigh of relief that Yamato is safe and sound.