Mother of toddler found safe in western Japan ‘overcome with emotion’

Kyodo

The mother of a 2-year-old boy who was found safe three days after he went missing on an island in Yamaguchi Prefecture expressed her relief and joy at being reunited with her son.

“I didn’t think I would be able to meet him alive,” Mio Fujimoto, 37, told reporters Wednesday after her son Yoshiki was rescued by a search volunteer. He was found on a mountain about 560 meters from his great-grandfather’s house, where he had been visiting for the summer.

For the past three days, Fujimoto had been clinging to hope that her son could be found safe. On Wednesday morning, Yoshiki’s grandfather rushed to let the family know that the boy had been spotted. As Yoshiki was brought down from the mountain, the mother was overwhelmed with emotion and could only call out her son’s name.

“It had been three days and I had pretty much lost hope, so when he opened his eyes and looked at me, I was overcome with emotion,” Fujimoto said at the hospital where the boy was later taken. “I was so scared, though Yoshiki must have been even more scared.”

Of the 78-year-old volunteer who found her son barefoot sitting near a stream on the mountain, Fujimoto said, “He had promised me that he would bring back my son alive. It’s amazing that he really found him.”

Yoshiki ate a banana and some jelly, and drank apple juice after he was rescued, Fujimoto said. He was found with no notable injuries, but was hospitalized as he showed symptoms of dehydration.

Yoshiki turned 2 while he was missing, as his birthday was on Monday. “It turned out to be an unexpected kind of birthday,” his mother said. The family plans to belatedly celebrate Yoshiki’s birthday with an ice cream cake, one of his favorite foods, she added.