Rescuers in Japan were searching Monday for a young boy whose parents abandoned him in bear-inhabited woods as a form of punishment, NBC News reported.
A Hokkaido police spokesperson told NBC News the boy's parents initially said their son became separated from them while looking for wild plants in the woodland.
However, police told NBC News that a family member changed the story the next day to say Yamato Tanooka, 7, had been left behind as a "form of discipline." Relatives couldn't find the boy when they returned moments later, police added.
Tanooka's father was asked on Japanese television why the family had changed its story.
"I couldn't bring myself to say it was to discipline him … and then ask the police to search for him," said the father, whose name has been withheld by officials.
Local temperatures dropped to 46.5 degrees Sunday night, the Hokkaido Shimbun Press reported