Tokyo, March 12 (Jiji Press)–Local governments in Japan are busy preparing to accept people fleeing Ukraine, after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida earlier this month expressed his country’s readiness to welcome such people following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Three people who escaped Ukraine have already arrived at Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan. At least one of them is a Ukrainian national.
An official at the Kagoshima prefectural government said that it currently provides advice on accommodation and livelihood support.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said Friday that the metropolitan government has secured 100 public housing units to welcome refugees from Ukraine. It is planning to increase the number up to 700 while providing such people with clothes and other items.
Around 500 Ukrainians currently reside in the Japanese capital. The situation in Ukraine is “changing minute by minute,” Koike said, adding, “We will respond flexibly in a timely way.”
On Thursday, Kanagawa Governor Yuji Kuroiwa, in a meeting with Ukrainian Ambassador to Japan Sergiy Korsunsky at the embassy in Tokyo, said his prefecture, south of Tokyo, is preparing to welcome refugees from Ukraine.
A consultation service that the Kanagawa prefectural government started on Thursday has received around 20 inquiries from Ukrainians living in the prefecture, including one asking for advice on ways to invite their families to live in Japan.
The western prefecture of Osaka put together a package of support measures in the fields of livelihood, lodging, education and employment. On Wednesday, it started recruiting volunteer interpreters who can speak Russian or Ukrainian to help refugees. Fifty people have applied.
Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, is planning to work together with municipalities to provide refugees with hotel rooms at onsen hot spring resorts as accommodation for the time being. If their stay in Japan prolongs, the prefectural government is considering offering public housing.
The Gunma prefectural government will ask for donations of food and daily necessities from local companies. It is also considering providing refugees with school and employment support.
Some municipalities in Japan are moving to cancel exchange programs with Russia.
The western city of Hiroshima canceled an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of sister-city relationship with the Russian city of Volgograd.
“It is regrettable as Volgograd is a city that has a strong desire for peace as it, like Hiroshima, suffered devastating damage during World War II,” said an official at the city government of Hiroshima, which experienced an atomic bombing during the war.
The Tokyo metropolitan government will halt exchange programs with Russian municipalities, including sister-city partner Moscow.
“It would be difficult to continue international exchange activities (with Russian municipalities) in the same way as before, considering people’s feelings,” said an official at the city government of Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, northeastern Japan.
Sakata has been promoting exchanges with St. Petersburg and other locations in Russia. “We have no choice but to monitor the situation now,” the official said.