Photograph: Photo by Matthias Ripp, used under CC BY

A 7-year-old boy who disappeared for nearly a week was found unharmed on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, local media reported Friday.

Japanese troops found him in Shikabe town on the south side of the island Friday morning, six days after his parents left him in nearby woods to discipline him, Hokkaido newspaper reported.

“I deeply apologize for giving trouble to searchers and school officials,” his father Takayuki Tanooka told reporters with a deep bow. “I’m full of gratitude to those involved in the search.”

“I apologized to my son as I gave him a tough time because of my excessive behavior,” the father added.

About 180 police, troops and volunteers had been searching for the boy after his parents left him late Saturday in Nanae town, six kilometres from where soldiers found him sheltering at a military facility in the rain.

The boy said he had been able to find his way to the military site Saturday night and that he had been there since and survived by drinking water, the paper said.

The family was driving when they made the boy get out of the car as punishment for his throwing stones at cars and people. They drove off only to return five minutes later, but he had disappeared into the woods, prompting them to contact local authorities.

The couple initially told authorities the boy got lost while they were picking mountain vegetables, the report said.

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