Yamato Tanooka … Lost in the Forest …

Picture this:  A 7-year-old boy is out in the forest with his mom and dad when he becomes bored and starts tossing pebbles at cars.  As a parent, what would you do?  Well, Yamato Tanooka’s parents thought it was a good idea to leave him at the edge of the forest and drive off in their car, to teach him a lesson.  According to Yamato’s father, they returned for him within five minutes, only to find him gone.  This was four days ago, and the Yamato is still missing in an area of the forest that is known to be the home of a number of  bears.  Yamato had no food or water, and was dressed in only shorts and a t-shirt, though the temperatures dropped to 7° (C), or 44° (F) on Sunday night, accompanied by heavy rainfall in the northernmost section of Hokkaido, Japan’s main island.

I recently went on another rant about what I call ‘bad parenting’, and truly did not intend to do so again anytime soon, but this is just too much.  I raised three children and one grandchild, and yes, I made mistakes along the way … plenty of them!  But to willfully put a child through the trauma of believing he has been abandoned, that perhaps his parents no longer love him, all because he was being a perfectly normal little boy?  That, my friends, is inexcusable.  Even if Yamato had not gotten lost in the forest, this would have been cruelty in my book.  A child should always be able to believe that his parents are the two people he can rely on, the one thing in an otherwise confusing world, that define constancy, stability, and love. To some extent, I understand that there are cultural differences in child-rearing.  Where many of us in the western world are known to ‘spoil’ our children, the Japanese tend to be much stricter, but even making allowances for that, I find this unconscionable.

To add insult to injury, once the parents discovered that Yamato was missing, in their call to police they lied and said that they had been ‘collecting edible plants’ in the forest when their son suddenly went missing, only to re-cant later on.  The father, Takayuki, said: “I feel very sorry for my son. I am so sorry for causing trouble for so many people.” They also delayed in reporting his disappearance, fearing legal repercussions.  Now the police are ‘looking into’ possible charges of neglect against Yamato’s parents.

Over 150 members of the local police and fire departments, along with rescue teams, have been searching for Yamato for nearly four days, have expanded the search area and called in S&R dogs and helicopters as well, but there is still, as of this writing (Tuesday, 31 May 2016, 6:20 p.m. EDT) no sign of the boy.  Certainly there remains a ray of hope, however with each passing hour it seems more likely that Yamato will not be found alive.  I shall continue to hope and will update this post if and when new information becomes available.

11 thoughts on “Yamato Tanooka … Lost in the Forest …

  1. Poor boy… even real bad behaviour would not justify leaving a 7 year old alone in the woods! I just hope they find him alive and well after all. – I remember I lost my older one for about 5 minutes in a forest-like park years ago. He was still very young. His friend had gone off “exploring” and he ran after him. Those wear the longest 5 minutes you can imagine! Maybe it was not even 5 minutes, but it felt like ages. I ran into the direction I had seen him disappear, shouting on top of my voice. Luckily he heard me and turned around. Together we found his friend (5 more minutes of anxiety) who was a bit lost and on the brink of tears. – The good thing was, after that adventure they tended to stick with me … 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Quite so, and I hope I did not offend you with any of my comments. I try to always be mindful and respectful of other cultures, but in my view, this constitutes poor treatment of a child, no matter the cultural norms. I once worked for Honda of America, and I still remember when one of the Japanese associates stood in front of thousands of people and apologized for having an accident in his company car. That is when I realized that the cultural gap extends far beyond food and dress. Again, please accept my apologies if I offended you in any way … it was not my intent.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely agree with your position on this situation, especially with a child that young.

    This was clearly a case where the punishment exceeded the crime and though I’m a firm believer in the psychological and physical resiliency of children, 7 is too young of an age for a child to comprehend the relationship between physically leaving them and the punitive nature of committing such an act in the first place. I remember reading a blog where the teenager of a mother was being disrespectful and he was asked time and again not to be that way while in the car. The mom just dropped the teenager off in a crowded area for around 5 or 10 minutes and when she came back, the place was swarming with cops and CPS personnel. that was a case where I was on the side of the mother, particularly since the teenager wasn’t listening to her at all and being disrespectful. at that age, sometimes more severe consequences need to be handed out to get through the thick self-absorbed skulls of such people.

    but in this case, absolutely, the parents should be held responsible and culpable for the disappearance of their child, especially if they failed to report it right away. that’s actionable and the police are within their rights to meet out justice in whatever fashion Japanese law allows.

    I hope you’re doing well and I look forward to reading your next post. Have a great night.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not sure how I feel about the situation with the teenager … it is true that some teens are difficult, but I still think I would have found a different way to deal with that problem. Who knows … I try not to criticize others’ parenting techniques UNTIL they become neglectful or abusive. Thanks for reading and for the well-wishes! I always enjoy your comments, as they make me think. 🙂


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